DAZN's John Skipper Credits Time At ESPN To Current Success
DAZN Exec Chair John Skipper said his time as ESPN President “uniquely prepared” him for his current position because it allowed him to have “relationships with league commissioners, producers and personalities in sports,” according to a cover story with R. Thomas Umstead of MULTICHANNEL NEWS. Skipper, who was selected as Multichannel News’ Sports Exec of the Year, spent two decades at ESPN before leaving in Dec. ’17. Skipper said he was the “architect of the strategy to launch ESPN+,” so he had a chance to think about how to “build an over-the-top subscription business.” Skipper said, “The biggest difference being here (at DAZN) is that we’re a pure play, so I don’t have to think about building it within the context of a larger organization with lots and lots of legacy benefits and complications.” He added, “We are going to buy our rights and put them on a streaming platform. We do believe that’s the future.” When asked why boxing was the best choice for building a new sports service, Skipper said, “We believed boxing was an opportunity. It’s not that we looked at the landscape and everything was available to acquire and we could go, ‘What do we want to do to launch?’ We had to look at an existing landscape and go, ‘What’s available? What makes sense?’” Skipper said there are “ways to improve the presentation of boxing that will allow us to present a superior proposition to the boxing fan” (MULTICHANNEL NEWS, 8/5 issue).
DROPPING THE BALL: YAHOO SPORTS' Kevin Iole wrote Skipper is "making an absolute mess" of the network's boxing program, as neither Canelo Alvarez nor Gennady Golovkin will be "fighting on Mexican Independence Day weekend in Las Vegas this year." That is "nothing more than a failing of Skipper's leadership." When he signed Golovkin to a deal that paid him more than $100M as he was "moving down the backstretch of his career, Skipper failed to get anything in writing to protect DAZN if Alvarez and Golovkin, for whatever reason, didn't want to fight each other." Alvarez signed a contract with DAZN last year that was "in excess" of $365M for 11 fights. Skipper last week approved Sergiy Derevyanchenko as a "potential opponent for Alvarez," who then got Skipper to "agree, inexplicably, that he wouldn't have to fight Golovkin on Cinco de Mayo next year." When DAZN "made its U.S. debut last September with a heavyweight title fight between Anthony Joshua and Alexander Povetkin, it promised pay-per-view-caliber events on a regular basis." But in the 10-plus months DAZN has "aired in the U.S., how many cards has DAZN aired that would have been on HBO Pay-Per-View in the past?" Other than the May fight between Alvarez and Daniel Jacobs, there have been "a lot of very entertaining fights streamed on DAZN, but nothing that would have been remotely close to a pay-per-view card." This is a "massive failing and it falls on the man at the top" (SPORTS.YAHOO.com, 8/2).