Boxing: Sports streaming service DAZN to launch in New Zealand in December

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Anthony Joshua in action against Andy Ruiz Jr. Photo / Photosport

Global sports streaming giant DAZN will officially launch in New Zealand in December with two international boxing events, including heavyweight champion Anthony Joshua's next fight.

DAZN (pronounced "Dazone") will debut its global platform in New Zealand on December 1 and will cost only $2.99 per month – a relatively cheaper price point compared to other streaming services Spark Sport and Sky Sport Now, albeit with significantly less content to offer for now.

The first two events to be broadcast live on DAZN will be back-to-back weekends of fights starting with the lightweight clash between 22-year-old American prospect Ryan Garcia and British Olympic gold medallist and two-time lightweight title challenger Luke Campbell on December 6 (NZ time).

The next live event will be on December 13 as defending unified heavyweight champion Joshua steps back into the ring almost a year since avenging his loss against Andy Ruiz Jr. in Saudi Arabia to take on mandatory IBF challenger Bulgarian Kubrat Pulev.

The streaming service will initially focus on boxing in New Zealand but plans to expand into other sports and programming from 2021, a DAZN spokesperson said.

Included in the subscription will be DAZN's full back catalogue of classic fights, athlete features and other boxing content, including original programming like 40 Days, Saturday Fight Live and One Night.

The UK-based DAZN initially planned to launch its global platform in May with Mexican boxing superstar Canelo Álvarez's bout against Billy Joe Saunders, but the fight was postponed due to the Covid-19 pandemic.

The global launch will see the streaming service expand to more than 200 countries and territories.

"From the UK to Mexico to Australia, we've seen an encouraging level of interest in our key events since first launching in 2016," said DAZN executive vice president Joseph Markowski. "We're looking forward to introducing the DAZN platform around the world this December with an exciting schedule of fights."

Could DAZN come for New Zealand's top sports?

In 2018, Álvarez signed the biggest contract in sports history with DAZN, an 11-fight deal worth at least US$365m – a showcase of the streaming service's major financial chops and its appetite to become "the first truly global sports broadcaster".

Backed by the likes of multibillionaire Sir Leonard Blavatnik, the 27th wealthiest person in the world, DAZN could prove to be a major disruption in the local sports broadcast market – currently occupied by Spark Sport and Sky Sport – especially if it does choose to compete for the rights to some of the country's biggest sports.

"A common misconception of our business given our heavy presence in the U.S. around boxing is that we are purely a boxing broadcaster. That's not the case," Markowski said earlier this year.

"I see it really as phase one of our global launch. We're going to focus on the content we own globally … As we get into it, and as we start seeing subscribers come in and particular success in some markets, we'll look to invest more specifically on local content."

Since first launching in 2016, DAZN has become the number one sports broadcaster in countries like Japan, where it owns domestic football and baseball rights. It also offers vastly popular content like Champions League and Serie A football in Europe.

Markowski said they are "absolutely" interested in a future move into major New Zealand sports like cricket and rugby, and expects to hear from local sports bodies in the future.

"We'll see how successful we are in each market. And I would imagine what would happen now that we've announced this intention to launch globally, we'll have lots of knocks on the door from our friends at the [local] leagues.

"We carry cricket in a number of our territories already and we carry rugby in a number of our territories too. We've done business with those guys all the time.

"Obviously, as you get into each market, the premium content like the All Blacks for example and in New Zealand the test match cricket rights too, they carry different price tags. And we'll invest at the right time when they become available and if we can see onward success in each of those markets.

"But the beauty of this strategy is we own this content globally already. We can introduce our product and our platform and what we believe is a better way of watching sport to fans in New Zealand."

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