TORONTO – Canadian TV rights for UEFA Champions League soccer are headed to the sports streaming service DAZN.
DAZN (pronounced Da Zone) says the rights deal covers three years, starting with the 2018-19 European club championship season.
“It’s exclusive broadcast rights for every single round, every single game for both the Champions League and Europa League,” DAZN CEO James Rushton said from England. “We have no intention of licensing any of it.”
Champions League games in Canada have been shown on TSN, Sportsnet and beIN Sports in recent years.
DAZN, which is available via subscription, is a live and on-demand sports service owned by British-based media company Perform Group. It currently is available in Canada, Austria, Germany, Japan and Switzerland.
DAZN launched last August here as the exclusive Canadian home of NFL Game Pass, the league’s premium digital subscription product.
“When we launched last year, we said that the NFL relationship was only just the beginning,” Rushton said. “And we had intentions to invest in more premium rights, especially around soccer — obviously soccer is very much at the heart, the DNA of the Perform Group business.
“I think the Champions League deal is the first sign of our intention to the rest of the market going forward … We are looking to land and announce other big wins over the next few months.”
Technical issues on the streaming platform made for a rocky opening in Canada, but such issues have since been resolved and the service has added to its content.
“There’s no denying it wasn’t the greatest of starts for us in the market,” he said.
And there’s some lessons to be learned by DAZN — there’s also some lessons to be learned by our rights partners and our platform partners. But we learned those lessons. We’ve now made the amends and made sure that our technical platform is solid.”
“Now it’s about growing our brand, growing our audience and delivering on the promises I was making at the start about being a fans-first service,” he added. “To be honest, you’ve got to put your money where your mouth is. You’ve got to buy great rights and deliver great campaigns and grow our business.”
The Canadian Champions League deal calls for 138 matches to be shown annually with another 205 Europa League matches.
Starting in 2018-19, DAZN also has Champions League rights in Germany and Austria, along with Sky Deutschland, and Japan.
DAZN adds MLS content this year, taking over in Canada what had been the MLS Live streaming service.
While Rushton would not share numbers in Canada, he said DAZN is “bang-on” in its subscription forecasts. DAZN costs $20 a month or $150 annually.
“We are pleased where we are,” he said.
The Canadian service offers a range of sports from baseball and cricket to snooker and tennis. Hockey remains a hole, although it has shown KHL games.
DAZN was the primary Canadian rights-holder for the Gold Coast Commonwealth Games in April.
The service says it hopes to expand into Southeast Asia and further into the Americas.
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