Sports streaming service DAZN rebrands fall as ‘fight season’
To every thing there is a season, and for tens of millions of Americans, fall is a time for celebrating chlorophyll depletion while shipping the kids off to school and luxuriating in the weekend ritual of football. But if a new marketing campaign from DAZN hits the mark, leaf peepers and sports fans alike are going to have to figure out a way to squeeze mouth guards and boxing gloves in with all the Trapper Keepers and shoulder pads.
On Sept. 29, the streaming service will bow its fall campaign on primetime TV’s biggest stage, running a 60-second spot during NBC’s broadcast of “Sunday Night Football.” Set to air just six days before the IBF middleweight title bout between Gennadiy Golovkin and Sergiy Derevyanchenko, the launch of the “It’s Fight Season on DAZN” offensive coincides with a can’t-miss Cowboys-Saints showdown on NBC.
The DAZN promo also sets up the Nov. 2 Canelo Álvarez-Sergey Kovalev light heavyweight bout, which marks a leap of two weight classes for 29-year-old Mexican fighter. DAZN last year signed Álvarez to an unprecedented 11-fight, $365 million contract, making it the richest deal in sports history.
DAZN’s fall boxing slate concludes Dec. 7 with a rematch between heavyweights Anthony Joshua and Andy Ruiz Jr. In June of this year, 11-1 underdog Ruiz secured one of the greatest upsets in the sport’s history, beating Joshua by a TKO in the seventh round. (The outcome was particularly shocking given that Ruiz boasts the physique of a man who subsists on a steady diet of marshmallow Peeps and candy corn.)
All of these fights are exclusive to DAZN, which began positioning itself as a must-have service for stateside boxing enthusiasts last fall, after HBO stepped out of the ring. Based in London, DAZN’s first foray into U.S. streaming came on Sept. 22, 2018, when, in a bid to introduce itself to American aficionados, it offered Joshua’s title defense against Alexander Povetkin for no charge.
Designed to convert fight fans into DAZN subscribers, the fall campaign will feature 30-, 15- and six-second versions of the two-minute spot. In addition to the “Sunday Night Football” buy—on the heels of Sunday night’s debut, the “Fight Season” promo is slated to air in NBC’s four subsequent NFL broadcasts—DAZN also has invested in the network’s upcoming Notre Dame college football slate as well as its English Premier League broadcasts.
As the leaves turn and fall and the DAZN fight calendar marches along to December, the 30-second spots will become increasingly tailored to the specifics of the most proximate upcoming bout. While the new 60-second effort is tasked with setting the mood for the season ahead, the 30-second spinoffs will close out with a more direct call to action.
“We want to shift consumers from the transactional relationship they have with boxing to our subscription model,” says Rob Stecklow, DAZN’s senior VP of marketing for North America. “In a single month, you can watch Triple-G [Golovkin] and Canelo in the biggest fights of the year.”
DAZN charges $99.99 for a full-year subscription, which may be seen as a bargain in light of what a single pay-per-view card can fetch. In July, fans coughed up $74.99 to watch the 12-round Manny Pacquiao-Keith Thurman welterweight title bout.
While NBC will reap the lion’s share of DAZN’s investment, the sports streamer also has bought a mix of linear TV and digital inventory in select CBS, WarnerMedia and Viacom programming, as well as on NBCUniversal’s Spanish-language network Telemundo and its broadcast rival Univision. The latter outlets are instrumental to DAZN’s outreach to Hispanic viewers, especially those who are of Mexican heritage. (The wildly popular Álvarez is a native of Jalisco, while Ruiz is the first Mexican-American fighter to hold a world heavyweight title.)
As much as boxing doesn’t necessarily conform to the same rigid schedule that defines football season and the start of the academic year, Stecklow says that many of the sport’s selling points are arguably endemic to the fall.
“Football and boxing are defined by big hits, upsets and raw emotion,” says Stecklow, who in the course of his marketing career has overseen activations for DirecTV’s NFL Sunday Ticket and the National Football League itself. “There’s a rhythm to the fall that everyone recognizes. We want to insert DAZN into that rhythm.”