The UK launch of sports streaming service DAZN is highly likely to be delayed beyond its scheduled date in May, City A.M. understands.
DAZN, which has been billed as a “Netflix of sport”, had pencilled in a major global expansion that would increase the number of countries served from nine to more than 200.
The platform’s expansion was due to take effect in time for a blockbuster world title fight between Saul “Canelo” Alvarez and British boxer Billy Joe Saunders on 2 May.
But the suspension of sport across the globe amid the coronavirus outbreak has left talks over that fight in limbo and forced DAZN to reconsider its plans.
Saunders flew to Las Vegas earlier this week with a view to announcing his super-middleweight fight with Canelo.
Canelo v Saunders in doubt
But that bout now looks increasingly unlikely to happen at all because the Mexican has agreed a trilogy fight with Gennady Golovkin for September, City A.M. has learnt.
Ongoing delays to the boxing calendar mean there is unlikely to be time for Canelo to face Saunders before his third date with Golovkin.
DAZN has invested heavily in boxing and its deals with Golden Boy Promotions and GGG Promotions give them rights to fights involving superstars Canelo and Golovkin.
It also has close ties to the Matchroom stable, which represents Saunders, Anthony Joshua and a host of other British boxers.
The subscription service launched in the USA with Anthony Joshua’s heavyweight world title fight against Alexander Povetkin in 2018 and still plans to have a hard UK launch with a big-name bout. However, it’s now unclear when that will be.
It is still possible that DAZN’s global launch goes ahead later in May, as it will likely take place in the days or weeks before any hard launch.
There are still a number of big fights scheduled for June and July, including Joshua’s world title defence against Kubrat Pulev at the Tottenham Hotspur Stadium. But like all sporting events, they could be subject to postponement.
Football’s timetable may also play a role in the timing of DAZN’s launch in other countries where it will have rights to broadcast Champions League and Europa League matches.
If football does return to our screens before the summer, even behind closed doors, then DAZN’s worldwide expansion may be less contingent on a massive boxing fight, although it was set to be the main pull, particularly in the UK.
The challenger streaming service also plans to have a number of sporting documentaries and other non-live offerings for customers as part of its subscription, which will cost £4.99 a month, but without the additional pay-per-view costs that Sky Sports and BT Sport charge.
An ever-changing situation regarding suspended sport amid the coronavirus outbreak has made it difficult to put a timescale on how long DAZN may have to delay its global launch. Although unwilling to comment at this time, executives are set to discuss a plan of action in the coming weeks.