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Volume 25 No. 151
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Skipper Talks DAZN's Strategy, Difference From TV Approach

DAZN Exec Chair John Skipper appeared at the Web Summit in Lisbon earlier this week, and his session "essentially focused on the global streaming entity" that he is "trying to build" during an interview with Jemele Hill, according to Ryan Glasspiegel of THE BIG LEAD. Skipper outlined DAZN's approach, saying, "We buy rights. We put them on the streaming platform. We focus on customer experience and we can do that’s advantageous because we know what people are watching. ... We know when someone’s engaged. We can then do things to make that experience better." He said TV networks "don’t really know how many people watched" any given broadcast. Skipper: "If you’re watching on cable or broadcast television, it is so anachronistic that it still relies upon Nielsen ratings, which are done on a sampling technology so that it infers that X number of people watched ... They don’t have any idea who in the house is watching." Skipper said when it comes to live rights procurement, "relationships," "decision-making" and a "desire to participate in the future" all play an important role. But he said the "most important thing is the writing of the check" because leagues "will give you their rights when you pull out your checkbook and you make a deal and you decide that you’re going to pay them." He said DAZN has the "ability to drive revenue by getting retention of subscribers, getting the money directly." But he noted the company will have to continue to "create a better business model so we can write a bigger check." Skipper said DAZN does "not have advertising in our subscription service right now, but we will." He said the OTT service "will not run 30-second ads in pods of 5-6 of those so [viewers] see the same car ad 14 times in a 3-hour game" and will "not interrupt games in a way that are unnatural, the way they do on television." Rather, he said DAZN will "figure out a way to integrate content into the production" (THEBIGLEAD.com, 11/7).

CHANGE IN PHILOSOPHY: Skipper also appeared on the latest Recode Media podcast, with host Peter Kafka noting Skipper while at ESPN had a "nearly unlimited bag of money" and could "almost always outbid the competition if you wanted to." That meant ESPN "pretty much got every deal" it wanted. However, with DAZN, Skipper has to be "scrappier and ... can’t just show up and win." Skipper said, "We spent it wisely and appropriately, and effectively [at ESPN]. Now I have to be a little more creative." He added, "About $250 million was spent on Canelo Alvarez’s last three fights. I now have to find those people -- not a trivial marketing task -- and convince them that what they were paying $80 a pop for is much more effectively and economically purchased by getting a $10 subscription to DAZN." Skipper later said, "We are aggregating a large inventory of fight content. We are partners with Combate and Bellator and the World Boxing Championships so that you have a fairly ... if you’re a boxing fan, you get a steady diet of fights. I think the pay-per-view model was an excellent model for some number of people to make a lot of money for a while. It did end up choking off the interest in boxing because the biggest events of the sport were taken basically out of the view of most of the public and sold to people for $80 a piece" ("Recode Media with Peter Kafka," RECODE.net, 11/8).