• Andy Marston

98: DAZN offers Barstool commentary, and should broadcasters acquire rights holders?

I hope everyone enjoyed the wonderful weekend of sport! Highlights include American Scottie Scheffler cantering home to win at Augusta - hours after The Grand National delivered a 50-1 victor.


We also saw wins in Melbourne for Ferrari as F1 returned down-under and for the Commonwealth Games, which announced Victoria as host of it's 2026 Games.

 

TOP STORY

DAZN offer Barstool commentary in Fight for attention

When Canelo Alvarez meets Dmitry Bivol in Las Vegas on May 7th with the whole world watching on pay-per-view (interestingly this is DAZN’s first ever individual PPV event), Barstool Sports will be right there to call the action.


Yep, that’s right, DAZN viewers will have the option to switch over to a separate Barstool Sports commentary feed covering the entire fight card. This will feature Barstool personalities such as Dave Portnoy, Big Cat, Large, Caleb, and Rone. A homage (potentially) to the success of ESPN’s Monday Night Football ‘Manningcast’?


For those unaware, Barstool Sports is a digital media company that got famous producing content focused on sports and pop-culture. They are no strangers to the world of boxing, having staged their own Rough n’ Rowdy PPV matches for years. This, however, is their first move onto the big stage of international sports rights.


Interestingly, in December Barstool did dip their toe into the sports rights acquisition game through its multi-year deal with The Arizona Bowl, which packed both naming and broadcasting rights together. This meant for those wanting to watch the postseason college football bowl game, they’d have to tune in on Barstool’s multiple platforms (website, app and social media) rather than ESPN or CBS from now on.


While it was suggested at the time that there was a risk the Arizona Bowl could have considerably fewer viewers as a result, Barstool CEO Erika Nardini responded that what they may lose in sheer numbers, they would hope to make up for in interaction and engagement.


Our Take:


This latest move suggests that perhaps DAZN agree with Nardini. It’s perhaps no surprise that boxing executives would be among the first to act (on the shift towards interaction and engagement) given the success they’ve witnessed first-hand from YouTubers entering the ring.


Interestingly, MMA challenger, the PFL, recently announced a new partnership with social commerce and video platform Millions to host ‘watch parties’ alongside their events. A trend is certainly emerging.


📚 Further Reading

  • Peyton and Eli Manning Sign Extension to Continue ‘ManningCast’ Through 2024 - Sports Illustrated

  • Baseball TV landscape sees shakeup in terms of booth talent, streaming games - Sports Business Journal

  • Personalized Sports Broadcasting: The Rise Of Fan-Created Commentary - Forbes (2018)

 

THOUGHT FOR THE WEEK

Sports organisations such as UFC, WWE and Formula One could be alluring acquisition targets for big streaming companies like Disney and Netflix, according to a recent report from CNBC.


The report goes on to explain that Disney nearly acquired the UFC in 2016 and that, "Buying a sports league would enable a company to control expensive licensing rights that seem to increase with each renewal."


While this is a nice idea in principle, Charlie Boss suggests that it is, "hard to do in practice, as the business models and scale differ so vastly. Just look at Disney selling the X Games."


Another example comes in the popular Indian sport of Kabaddi. Last year, team owners from the Pro Kabaddi League (PKL) voiced objections after Mashal Sports, the owner and organiser of PKL, announced Star & Disney India as the winner of the league’s media rights for the next five seasons with the entire auction process not seeing bidding from anyone besides Star & Disney India (who own a 74% stake in Mashal Sport).

📚 Further Reading

  • Sports media rights on the rise - Axios

  • F1 goes to market expecting big increase in rights next year as U.S. interest continues growth - Sports Business Journal

  • Netflix execs explain why they’re getting into video games — to learn from users - CNBC

 

WEEKLY ROUND UP

Governance

  • Russia is celebrating its first court victory against sporting sanctions relating to the Ukraine invasion after successfully overturning the International Luge Federation decision to ban Russian lugers.

Sponsorship

  • Coca-Cola is expanding its previous relationship with Riot Games in a multiyear partnership in a bid to show off new skills after past missteps in reaching gamers.

Broadcast

  • Formula One goes to market expecting big increase in U.S. rights next year seeking to move from $5m to $75m per year!

Expansion

  • Fanatics plans more deals with trading cards and NFTs among key areas for expansion after new funding at a $27bn valuation.

Investment

  • Real Zaragoza are set to sell a 51% ownership stake to an investment group led by Jorge and Jose Mas Santos – the part-owners of Major League Soccer’s Inter Miami

Play-To-Earn

  • Swedish startup GOALS have raised a $15m seed round to help build an alternative to EA’s FIFA video game series.

 

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