- Len Blavatnik has invested billions in DAZN sports broadcasting. Now in 200 locations.
- DAZN has targeted women's sports for more investment and attention in 2023.
- Joe Markowski, the company's North American CEO, wants to offer experiences alongside sports content.
DAZN North America COO, Joe Markowski, is one of the toughest bosses in media. Access Industries CEO Len Blavatnik has spent billions to launch a rival sports entertainment brand after watching streaming, while subsidiary Warner Music, of which Blavatnik is a vice president, is turning its fortunes around.
While DAZN is already a staple in parts of Asia, Europe and Latin America, its presence in North America is still known primarily through pay-per-views. In partnership with President Kevin Mayer, Head of Disney Stream and Global CEO Shai Segev, Markovski's DAZN company is building a sports platform between major global players such as Disney, Apple, Amazon and Comcast as well as the original front: CBS and Fox.
Markowski, who took over as CEO of North America in September after seven years at the helm, told Insider that he's committed to growth in women's sports, boxing and Spanish-language programming. The vision for where DAZN is headed doesn't end with acquiring the sports rights, it sees sport as a total experience for fans, from broadcast to betting and beyond.
Markowski's December interview with Insider has been cut and edited.
DAZN is famous for boxing. Where is the journey going in 2023 and what are the long-term growth opportunities for your company?
By expanding and investing in our global platform, I think it's a content investment to expand what we offer to consumers around the world. Our investment in women's sport is at the heart of it all.
In 2014 we signed a 10-year deal with women's tennis for a joint venture called WTA Media. Together with the WTA, we own the commercial rights to all women's tennis. And we sell that content to ourselves and other broadcasters around the world. We typically invest in women's sports.
We recently acquired the rights to the UEFA Women's Champions League worldwide. We worked for four years, the first two years we worked with YouTube and Google. The goal is to increase knowledge of the property. This is the third and fourth year that we have been streaming this content exclusively on DAZN. In particular, we invest in the acquisition of international rights for women's football. We believe this is the foundation of our building.
We have also invested heavily in women's boxing. At the end of April of this year, two women were featured for the first time in the history of MSG: Katie Taylor and Amanda Serrano. It broke distribution records worldwide. Over a million people watched this match live on DAZN. You're seeing real and significant growth in women's sports right now, and it's coming in many forms.
I recorded the numbers [view] for the show. Can I really mention that adidas and EA Sports will be supporting DAZN Women's Champions League content globally. In the year I can mention one fact: the three most watched football matches in Europe in 2022 will be women's matches.
So you see real tangible and intangible growth indicators around the sport. Five years ago, women's sports weren't a casual conversation between my family and friends on WhatsApp, in the pub or at the dinner table.
Professionalism in women's sports, we are at the heart of this development. We are delighted that our rights and sponsorship partners are investing heavily in their contribution to sport by recognizing and rewarding female athletes. It's a cycle: more investments, more interests, more eyes.
Spanish language rights are a growth area for DAZN. What can you tell us about the rights or how you intend to use this audience?
Boxing fans in the United States are disproportionately Hispanic compared to that country's general population. Hispanics in the US love boxing. Mexicans, Puerto Ricans, Latinos, and others in general love boxing.
Some of the best boxers in the world come from these countries [Latin America]. This means that our US customer and business base is Hispanic. You will consume content in Spanish and English on our platform. We see the opportunity to purchase content in Spanish to give children a wider choice of local content. This can be football, boxing and many other martial arts.
So Amazon, Apple, Comcast, Warner Bros. You have Discovery, Disney, all competing for the most expensive sports rights. How do you see a streamer entering this market and owning a part of it?
Well, we founded DAZN eight years ago and launched it in 2016. It's been a long time since most of these young people thought about leaving the forums.
So we saw an opportunity in some markets where it wasn't very disrupted from a streaming perspective and where the rights holders were a little bit disappointed with the lack of growth in that market. We saw an opportunity to take over the media in Germany, Austria, Switzerland and Japan and gain quick access and key media rights. No matter how close we cut dates, they always appear at the top of our list.
We developed a product and hired amazing new engineers, marketing and PR people. They secured our B2B relationship and rights with [DAZN prefix] Perform Group and [DAZN majority owner] Access Industries key content packages, enabling us to launch the world's first pure sports streaming platform. . We have since established North American companies in Canada with NFL, Premier League and Champions League rights.
We launched in the US and Italy in 2018 and soon in Spain in 2020. We have significant investments in nine media markets. We saw an opportunity to open a global platform that would allow us to use shared rights globally and enable a service or service option in more than 200 markets and territories around the world.
The real business for us is our ongoing monthly subscription relationship with boxing fans in this country or football fans in Germany or Italy and baseball fans in Japan.
And is your vision to be more than a sports channel?
The way I see our corporate vision for the future is you can take the video subscription connection of sports fans, boxing fans, football fans and connect these different touchpoints, monetization points. With their fans, sports betting, merchandising and e-commerce sales, connecting with other fans, athletes and teams, serving all aspects of their fan base comprehensively makes the platform the place for all that fans of sports wish. Train and shop around.
I would argue that the industry is still almost exclusively focused on delivering live, on-demand content to the consumer. Being a sports fan is more than just watching a live match or watching highlights. We want to build a destination platform that offers a variety of things sports fans want to have throughout the day, from waking up to going to bed.