Broadcast Sport speaks to chief financial officer Darren Waterman about the broadcaster’s plans

DAZN x Matchroom UK

DAZN chief financial officer Darren Waterman believes the UK isn’t an “existential” market for the broadcaster. 

Earlier this year, CEO Shay Segev marked the UK as a ”high priority” for the streaming platform, but Waterman told Broadcast Sport that this doesn’t mean DAZN wouldn’t be able to survive without it. DAZN already holds domestic rights to LaLiga, Serie A, and the Bundesliga in its European businesses.

Waterman, who joined the company from Prime Video last year, said: “My view is that we can enter any market and build the DAZN business. There are many markets, and the UK is certainly an important market because it’s where we’re based. It’s not existential for us to be in the UK but it would be great to find a good way to keep on growing the business.”

Darren Waterman DAZN

He added: “The business we have is great in terms of the fight sports proposition, there’s a good passionate fan base for that type of thing. Love to do more. Football is obviously the premium sport in the UK, and we have to look forward to the Premier League auction. We’ll wait to see how the Premier League decide to package it, and then we can decide how we want to play it.”

In regard to recent reports that the Premier League may make 60 extra games available to broadcasters in its rights auction next year, which will be its first competitive auction since 2018, Waterman believes that more content could be the future of sport broadcasting: “The whole of sport is becoming more digital, more advanced, and DAZN has played its part in that. Leagues need to play their part and think about what they want fans to do in their sport in the long run.

“People are moving from watching on TV once a week to engaging seven days-a-week on digital platforms. Technology can make it happen now.”

DAZN was recently linked with a bid for the EFL’s rights, amid signals from the organisation that it would be willing to broadcast every one of its fixtures. However, Sky Sports has since been named the preferred bidder, with clubs to hear its proposal this week.

DAZN NFL Game Pass

Waterman added on the importance of big rights deals: “I think you need the big rights to get the flywheel going and to bring the customers. That’s really our investment, to grow the customer base and to build the brand. So I think they’re very important, the marquee domestic sports that most people care about in a country. Once you have that, then there are the opportunities to build on top and add more sports that have the opportunity to grow and find an audience.”

When it comes to these rights deals, DAZN is looking to move away from the traditional licencing models and towards revenue sharing partnerships. Recent examples have included its renewal with the J.League in Japan, and how it has added NFL Game Pass to its platform outside of the US. Waterman explained: “It’s now not just pay to watch television, it’s to experience sport and do more things in the app - all of which generates additional income and revenue. What we offer, and what is a little unique, is we’re doing all that in one place.

“So we want to find the sorts of relationships with leagues where it’s a little bit more of a risk sharing model. They want to participate in all of this future growth, we’re happy to let them participate in the future growth with us and you can create more of a long term partnership model than straightforward, older licencing model. I think we’re moving in that direction, but it takes time.”

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Bringing that strategy together will include partnerships as well as the in-house path DAZN has taken so far with its launch of DAZN Bet. “I see these things being delivered through partnerships. If you think about the macro vision to bring all of those experiences in one place, we want people to be able to buy a football shirt of the team they support, or buy a scarf for the match that they’re watching, like you would if you were going to the real event.

“There’s some great partners out there, in the long run probably, for us to work with and integrate into DAZN to really complete the experience. We don’t have to do everything ourselves. If there are experts in different things, the most important thing for us is to bring it into the app, so that customers get it in one place and they can use their DAZN account. It’s all seamless. That’s the most important thing.”