NEW YORK/LONDON: Not many people have heard of London-based DAZN, a live sports streaming service, but after its groundbreaking $1bn deal with Matchroom Boxing to broadcast bouts in the US, the company has serious plans to expand in the country and elsewhere.

DAZN is already established in markets like Germany, Japan and Canada – although it does not so far operate in the UK because of the high cost of acquiring sports rights.

Rather like Netflix with movies and TV shows, its business model is based on persuading sports fans to pay a monthly subscription rather than one-off payments.

And the company’s CEO is confident DAZN can make major inroads into the US, where boxing fans can be charged up to $100 a time by pay-TV operators.

“The US boxing market needs shaking up,” said James Rushton in an interview with The Drum. “I don’t care how much of a boxing fan you are, you can’t tell me paying $70, $80, $90, $100 for a fight is good value.”

He explained that in the US there’s a “weird situation” where one or two fighters can suck up almost the entire pay-per-view revenues and “we think that’s wrong”.

Under the terms of its exclusive, eight-year, deal with Matchroom Boxing, DAZN will stream 16 fights a year in the US in addition to 16 UK events that are broadcast by Matchroom’s partner, Sky Sports.

Rushton said he fully expected US pay-per-view broadcasters to respond to DAZN’s challenge, but he expressed confidence that “we can take on those guys and deliver a brilliant product and service for fans”.

It intends to do so, he said, by concentrating on about three million “hardcore” boxing fans that have either cut the cord on their cable packages or are likely to.

“It’s those hardcore customers we’ll initially go after, prove our worth and then expand from there,” Rushton said, adding that while boxing is “key” the company plans to offer other sports too.

“DAZN is not just a boxing service. We’ll be announcing a load of stuff – a load of new rights, a load of new partners – prior to launching at the end of summer,” he said.

Interestingly, he also did not rule out allowing advertising on the DAZN platform, which – like Netflix – is currently ad-free.

“We’re still in the discovery [phase] around that, but I could see a scenario whereby we start to experiment with different types of sponsorship and ad formats on DAZN around the world next year,” he said. “But that’s not necessarily a purely USA thing.”

Sourced from The Drum, ESPN; additional content by WARC staff