DAZN has agreed to buy Eleven Sports, adding two untapped European markets and expanding further into South East Asia in its bid for greater scale

Team Whistle, Eleven’s short-form content production and distribution network, will provide new opportunities for marketing DAZN, especially to younger audiences

Meanwhile, DAZN Bet has soft-launched in the UK—a small first step as it seeks additional monetisation methods for expensive broadcasting rights

Revenue decline accelerated in Q2 as the cost-of-living crisis appears to be impacting UK sales, but profits remained strong thanks to last summer’s Continental sports rights reset.

In Italy, DAZN will return on Sky’s platform just in time for the new Serie A football season, filling a key gap in its aggregation strategy.

Looking forward, thanks to its enhanced profitability, Sky has the flexibility to respond to the economic downturn using pricing and content.

  • Under a revised deal, DAZN, the Serie A broadcaster, is now allowed to expand its distribution to the Sky platform in return for a reduced fee from TIM, the incumbent telco
  • The new-look Italian market is consistent with DAZN’s approach elsewhere in Europe, seeking blanket distribution and avoiding head on challenges with incumbents
  • For the Italian sports rights market, the agreements clear the air, but Serie A needs deep reform

The tender for UK rights to the revamped Champions League (CL) and Europa League is now underway. The incumbent, BT Sport, is likely to want to retain full rights and we would expect it to be prepared to pay a flat-to-modest increase

English clubs' recent strong performance in the Champions League may make the rights seem better value, but this won't necessarily translate to inflation going forward

Amazon and DAZN may be interested, but disciplined bidders are unlikely to push up prices

 

Sky continued to grow its UK revenue thanks to price rises, mobile customer additions, and a rebound from lost hospitality business in early 2021, but this was still outweighed by the recent reset of its Italian operation.

Aggregation remains a core focus, with Paramount+, and Magenta Sport in Germany, added to Sky’s bundles, while fibre rollout will intensify with the launch of Sky Stream puck as a standalone device later this year.

Declining buying power raises uncertainty over consumer behaviour: in previous recessions, pay-TV performed well, but today subscribers have more video options than ever before.

BT has entered exclusive discussions with Discovery to fold BT Sport into a joint venture including the UK version of Eurosport, ending sale discussions with DAZN.

The upgraded sports service will allow Discovery—soon merging with WarnerMedia—to considerably boost its content line-up in a genre where rivals Disney and Netflix are absent.

The ecosystem—the Premier League, UEFA, and Sky—will likely welcome the deal.

Sky has started to reap benefits from its substantial reduction in sports rights costs in Italy and Germany, helping to grow group EBITDA by 76% in Q3, despite a slight drop in revenue.

With this change in strategy, the business model in Italy is undergoing an upheaval. Meanwhile, the UK continues to perform well, with further promise on the horizon thanks to the bold launch of Sky Glass.

This streaming TV is a future-proofing leap forwards in Sky’s ever-more-central aggregation strategy, starting the business down the long path to retiring satellite, though this is probably still over a decade away.

Sky’s revenue was up 15% in Q2, back to pre-COVID levels despite some lingering pandemic effects such as most pubs and clubs remaining closed. EBITDA fell by a third, driven by higher costs from sports rights, since very few live sports events took place in Q2 2020.

The impact of “resetting” football rights is already evident in Germany and Italy, with 248k net customer losses across the group despite growth in the UK. However, Sky will make substantial savings, and we expect this will more than offset lost revenues.

Meanwhile, Sky continues to strike deals with other content providers, solidifying its position as the leading household entertainment gatekeeper. In time, apps for NBCU’s Peacock, ViacomCBS’ Paramount+, ITV Hub, and, in Germany, RTL TV Now and DAZN, will all be aggregated within Sky Q.

In a new chapter of a three year saga, the Ligue 1 awarded eight weekly games to Amazon for the 2021-24 seasons at a rock bottom price of €250 million per year, while Canal+ is left paying €330 million for only two fixtures per week.

Amazon makes a qualitative leap to become the lead broadcaster of a top domestic sport for the first time, probably reflecting more opportunism than a strategic shift.

Canal+ is asking courts to cancel the auction. Based on precedents, we expect the shift to undermine the total market for sport subscriptions.

The Premier League is reportedly seeking to roll over its existing domestic TV rights deal, in a bid to shore up its financial position given its losses during the pandemic.

A rollover would delay the risk of significant long-term deflation in the value of these rights, buying the Premier League greater financial certainty and time.

For Sky, BT and Amazon, a deal could provide even better value, and would delay any potentially-risky auction, closing the door to prospective newcomers.