Home Analysis How DAZN took sports viewing and fan engagement to the next level

How DAZN took sports viewing and fan engagement to the next level

DAZN has become a major player in the OTT sports scene, launching globally in 2020 and streaming over 27,000 live events over the past year. Peter Parmenter, SVP of Business Development at DAZN Group, gives his insights on successfully penetrating new markets, the partnership with YouTube that won the rights to the UEFA Women’s Champions League, and ongoing support for broadcast distribution. He also reveals the lessons learnt from the streaming gridlocks on the opening weekend of Serie A.

Peter Parmenter, SVP of Business Development at DAZN Group (left) with Minal Modha of Ampere Analysis
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DAZN has become a major player in the OTT sports scene, launching globally in 2020 and streaming over 27,000 live events over the past year. In a rapidly growing sector, featuring big-name competitors such as Viaplay and ESPN+, many will be looking to this European media success story as an example of how to thrive in sports streaming.

Peter Parmenter, SVP of Business Development at DAZN Group, shared his insights at Connected TV World Summit last month, where he was interviewed by Minal Modha of Ampere Analysis.

Investing in local teams to create the best experience

Asked how DAZN has managed to scale successfully with its expansion into new markets across Europe and the differing rights to manage across these, Parmenter highlighted the need to have boots on the ground wherever DAZN plants its flag.

“Our rights portfolio in every market is very different,” he said. “Therefore, we have to have a very local feel to the product. We’ve put new management teams in many of our biggest markets to really take us to the next level in terms of delivering to local consumers.”

One of DAZN’s biggest achievements was securing the UEFA Women’s Champions League, which was the result of a collaboration with YouTube, and Parmenter explained how this came about.

“This was the first time UEFA centrally sold the competition through the group stages right up to the final. It was a four-year deal and we desperately wanted to be involved. We operate in 9–10 core markets and didn’t feel we had the scale on our own to deliver the mission, which is ultimately to grow the women’s game.

“We took what we think was a very innovative proposition to UEFA by partnering with YouTube, the world’s biggest video platform — that can literally get video to every device in every corner of the world — to deliver on that mission. YouTube and Google massively bought into this and we had, collaboratively, an incredible proposition to take to UEFA.”

Uniting linear and OTT to give sports fans choice

In addition to its streaming partnership with YouTube, DAZN worked with various free-to-air broadcasters across Europe — such as ITV in the UK — to ensure the Women’s Champion’s League couldn’t be missed.

Asked if DAZN saw a difference between their OTT and broadcast offerings, Parmenter said: “We take a very practical view about where people want to watch; we make a service available to as many people as we possibly can.

“So, it’s not just about device penetration and making sure we have an app that works on a phone screen all the way up to 85” OLED screens in your living room, which we do. But if there’s an audience out there that would prefer to watch via a linear channel, why not? There are hundreds and thousands of fans out there who have been used to watching [football] on channel 253 every Friday, Saturday, or Sunday. Why change that?

“What we can do, over time, is convert that audience into an app-based audience, but the app’s got to be better, it’s got to deliver value more than the linear channel, and that’s something that anybody who’s involved in the OTT space is trying to do.”

Avoiding streaming gridlock by collaborating with ISPs

Among all of DAZN’s successes there have also been stumbles, such as the opening weekend of Serie A in Italy when its streams became gridlocked. When it came to learnings from this, Parmenter said it was all about understanding what they could and couldn’t control, and boosting technology to avoid similar issues in future.

“We can’t control when the season starts and we can’t control Italians’ holiday plans,” he commented. “What you saw in the opening weekend of Serie A was a huge, huge amount of the potential audience travelling, particularly in the south where some of the networks aren’t as strong as they are in major cities.”

To bolster DAZN’s network capabilities, it has become more network-aware, installing its own technology stacks with big ISPs in Italy to get closer to users, while developing its video player to better support adaptable bitrates to ensure a continuity of service when there are fluctuations in bandwidth.

“It wasn’t a great weekend,” Parmenter admitted, “but every weekend subsequently we are delivering millions of concurrent streams of Serie A in full HD to devices all over Italy very, very successfully. We will never rest on our laurels, and we will continue to innovate.”

Filling the gaps with diverse content

When asked what makes DAZN better than the linear experience for investors, sports rights holders and sports fans, Parmenter said that beyond the obvious benefits of being able to watch anywhere the DAZN app is available, it was also about how the diversity of content keeps users coming back.

“We’re not just serving you live content, we’re giving editorial, we’re giving you statistics, we’re giving you data. All of these services combine in your pocket so that it’s multiple views a day rather than an appointment-to-view in front of your TV in the evening.”

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