Let's get ready to live stream is what DAZN is hoping fight fans will be chanting this weekend.
This Saturday, WBA, IBF and WBO heavyweight champion Anthony Joshua will defend his titles against the “Russian Warrior” Alexander Povetkin at London’s Wembley Stadium, one week after last Saturday's epic Canelo Alvarez victory over Gennady "GGG" Golovkin. Saturday also kicks off the live streaming debut of DAZN—considered the world’s largest live and on-demand sports service—in the United States. In July, the U.K.-based DAZN’s parent company Perform Group announced a billion dollar joint venture with Matchroom Boxing as well as a multiyear global distribution agreement with Bellator MMA.
What does it mean for U.S. viewers? It gives viewers a bigger bang for a lot less bucks. Last year’s Alvarez-GGG bout netted 1.3 million PPV buys, while Saturday’s epic was expected to reach 1.5 million—at $84.99. DAZN hopes to build a new generation of fight fans at less than $10 a month. Besides an average of one live streaming championship bout per week, DAZN promises exclusive original shows as well as behind-the-scenes features leading up to each fight.
“We’re giving fans what they want — great fights, behind-the-scenes features, all at just $9.99 per month without the cost or hassle of pay-per-view,” DAZN CEO James Rushton told us. “This is just the beginning though.
Down the road, Rushton says it would like to delve into other leagues (“As more rights become available, we’ll be bringing in even more fight events but other major sports too”), but for now its main focus is the live streaming top-rated fights, especially with more than a billion dollars invested. Rushton expects the capital will help reel in top fighters from other divisions, especially for Bellator, who hopes to close in even more on the UFC’s stranglehold of MMA. Rushton says. “Our investment in both Bellator and Matchroom should lead to more free agent signings and the continued development of rising stars.”
Bellator Fighters Douglas Lima, Michael Page, Dillon Danis and President of Bellator Scott Coker onstage at the U.S. launch of DAZN. Photos: Getty Images
So, what is DAZN?
According to Rushton, DAZN (pronounced “Da Zone”) is the “world’s largest dedicated live and on-demand sports streaming service that’s for fans, by fans.” The streaming service made its United States debut on Sept. 10 and begins its first live streaming event this Saturday. “We’re starting with fight sports and already have a stacked lineup of 70 fights with Matchroom Boxing, Bellator, and World Boxing Super Series – kicking off with a headline fight between Anthony Joshua and Alexander Povetkin,” Rushton says.
A week later, on Sept. 29, live streaming will continue as Bellator kicks off its Welterweight Grand Prix on Sept. 29, headlined by Gegard Mousasi vs. Rory MacDonald and highlighted by New York City’s Neiman Gracie taking on Jon Fitch while MMA legends Quintin "Rampage" Jackson and Wanderlei Silva will meet for the fourth time.
Oct. 6, former two-division champion Jessie Vargas will headline DAZN’s exclusive broadcast against former junior welterweight title challenger Thomas Dulorme. And on Oct. 12, DAZN will simulcast with Paramount Network in Bellator’s Heavyweight Grand Prix event, featuring Matt Mitrione and Ryan Bader.
It was also announced that Brian Kenny, “Sugar” Ray Leonard, Kay Adams, Chris Mannix and LZ Granderson will be the announcing crew, beginning with this Saturday's event.
And, of course, no fight would be complete without a signature call, so DAZN and Matchroom partnered with legendary ring announcer Michael Buffer to bring his iconic “Let’s get ready to rumble” call to each fight.
“We hope this level of access means that current fans will not only be able to tune in to their favorite fighters even more, but also spark a new generation of fight fans and bring the sport and our fighters further to the masses,” Rushton says.