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DAZN CEO James Rushton on working with combat sports promotions, additional DAZN programming

The man behind DAZN discusses the streaming platform and what it means for the world today

A new way to watch sports has arrived in DAZN. The CEO of the streaming service, James Rushton, has helped grow the DAZN brand beyond anyone’s wildest dreams. Taking a big gamble on boxing with a $1 billion investment in Matchroom, Rushton added Bellator MMA into the fold. The goal? Provide a service by creating the best matches possible for fans to watch.

Visiting New York City for a major announcement, Rushton joined boxing’s Eddie Hearn and MMA’s Scott Coker in announcing several new fights that will open up DAZN’s debut in the U.S. on September 10. One of the first events will be Anthony Joshua v. Alexander Povetkin. It is a well-placed strategy in order to get fans invested in the service.

Double G Sports was able to grab a few minutes of Mr. Rushton’s time in order to talk business.

Double G Sports: What convinced you to involve DAZN with the combat sports world (Bellator and Matchroom)?

James Rushton: DAZN is a fan-first business. One of our key questions is simple: How we can provide a better deal for fans? Bellator and Matchroom, especially in the U.S. market, is key for our goals. Fight fans in the U.S. have a bad deal with consuming products as is, from how much you have to pay to the variety of networks you have to watch your favorite product on. Our consumer proposition being a fan-first business offers a better value to the fans.

DGS: By cutting down the amount of PPV’s, you are basically getting rid of the middleman?

JR: What we are trying to essentially do is put on 100 PPV-quality shows a year, without the payment of the PPV. If we want to do that, we have to work with some great promoters. We also want to show the fighters involved that we are serious business. Live broadcasts are going to be innovative and we are investing in original programming. The ultimate goal is to change the face of combat sports in the States. 

DGS: A variety of combat sports are involved in this growth. Any interest in developing another type of sport into the DAZN family, like pro wrestling?

JR: We are interested in a wide range of combat sports. While we haven’t looked into pro wrestling specifically, it is something we can consider. If there is an audience, there is a way. That is the beauty of DAZN. Fans are the reason for the service doing what it does best. Any pro wrestling promotor out there interested, give us a call, we are listening. 

DGS: Is DAZN in the business to provide reality-based or original programming?

JR: Obviously having The Perform Group’s John Skipper on board is a huge advantage, as he is the key executive to have in regards to original sports programming. He helped redefine what we think about sports programming. We are going to invest some serious money in original programming and original formats. There will be reasons every week for fans to sign up for some original content. 

DGS: How will you attempt to grow your audience, especially with casual combat sports fans?

JR: From a fight sports point of view, you bring in casual fans by bringing in the biggest and best names. We gave Eddie (Hearn) and Matchroom Boxing a $1 billion budget to handle that. The Anthony Joshua v. Alexander Povetkin fight on the 22nd of September is a great example of him coming through. The Jessie Vargas fight on October 6 is a great start as well. We need to bring in the biggest and baddest names onto DAZN.

We are also a multi-sports service. Sports promoted on DAZN are not well showcased in America. The next 12-18 months we’ll prove our patience with fight sports. When an opportunity knocks for more sports, that is when we dive in. 

DGS: DAZN is now in the U.S. and is also based in Canada. What are the chances of expanding to take over all of North America?

JR: It is a highly-competitive market down in Mexio, with big players. We have ambitions to be across all of North, Central and South America at one point.

DGS: What is your main goal for DAZN coming out of this deal and beyond?

JR: From a business point of view, we always talk about 20-20-20: 

– 20 markets 

– 20 million customers 

– By 2020

We are now live in five markets, with the U.S. and Italy going live soon. A lot of hard work is needed to fulfill our goals. This partnership with Bellator and Matchroom can and will help deliver those new markets. 

You can join DAZN just in time for the September U.S. launch. There is a 30-day free trial, and the service costs $9.99 a month. For more information regarding DAZN and their progress, you can check out their main website.

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Baseball Editor, Misc. Sports Editor. Covers all things combat sports (MMA, Pro Wrestling and Boxing). When he's not writing, Daniel hosts a podcast, The Main Event.


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