Getting into DAZN: Former ESPN boss builds new global sports network

November 19, 2018

John Skipper, who resigned as head of the ESPN sports network late last year, is back—and is looking to build a new global media giant covering professional fighting and team athletics, Axios reported on November 16.

His new company, DAZN (pronounced “Da-Zone”) which charges $9.99 a month for membership now, already has contracts for “over 100 fight nights a year, plus exclusive behind-the-scenes coverage.” The events will include boxing and mixed martial arts.

Globally, the company already has made inroads in some major markets, including Japan, Italy, and Germany. The company won’t say how many subscribers it has overall, but it has more than 1 million in Japan, thanks in large part to a deal with a telecom firm there.

What’s more, Axios reports, Skipper just announced a deal with Major League Baseball, Axios reports, that will allow the network “to show live look-ins throughout its prime-time programming” within the United States.

But it won’t be easy for DAZN to make its mark in an already-saturated U.S. market. “We understand we are coming in as the upstart into a very crowded, very good market,” Skipper told Axios. “We think we will actually punch above our weight.”

Indeed, Axios noted, Skipper not only will need to excel against ESPN’s many cable channels—but also its ESPN+ over-the-top service as well as the many other over-the-top services, including those run by each of the big league sports.

Skipper, who left ESPN under duress, following an extortion attempt related to his cocaine use, told Axios that he is now in a better place, both personally and professionally.

“Change can be a good thing, however inelegantly it may occur,” he said. “I happen to be very happy where I am working. I am very happy with my personal life.”

Research contact: ina@axios.com

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