Drafting is not just a tactic used by NASCAR drivers or cyclists. It’s also the nickname for an internal media strategy by DAZN to grow its audience off big events like the Super Bowl.
The sports streaming service is staging a “Miami Fight Night” on January 30, three days before Super Bowl 54 between the Kansas City Chiefs and San Francisco 49ers. The four-fight card will be headlined by social media stars Jake Paul and AnEsonGib as DAZN attempts to convert some of their combined 21 million YouTube followers into paying customers.
If the Super Bowl event is a success, look for DAZN to “draft” off more big sporting moments, including the NBA Summer League and the 2020 NFL Draft in Las Vegas, Rob Stecklow, DAZN’s senior vice president of marketing, said.
“I’m trying to align DAZN with where all the eyeballs of sports fans are at a particular time,” Stecklow said.
Stecklow, a former marketer for the NFL and DirecTV, said the strategy allows DAZN to do more with less. All of the sponsors, reporters, and fans the company wants to reach will be in Miami for the Big Game. The same athletes, celebrities and entertainers who want to see and be seen at the Super Bowl also like showing up for big-time boxing and MMA matches.
DAZN is also seeking to leverage publicity for its brand by offering up its fighters, promoters, and announcers like Michael Buffer to guest-hungry bookers on radio row.
Thursday’s Fight Night will take place in a new party venue that will host Pepsi and DirecTV’s parties in addition to a Lady Gaga concert on Saturday night. The 65,000-square-foot Meridian Island Gardens entertainment venue opens Super Bowl weekend.
“We’re doing exactly what we wanted. We will have eyeballs on the ground. We’re going to have a lot of brands that will hopefully see what we do, and it’s streaming on our app,” said Stecklow. “If you can’t be down around Miami for the Big Game, we’re going to have an event that is part of that ecosystem. Now, it’s not an NFL event. But, we’re going to have all the stars and celebs from boxing from the center of the sports universe.”
Stecklow believes Miami is also an excellent locale to match the drafting strategy with its boxing-heavy content. Miami doesn’t get many big fights, despite being the seventh-largest metro market in the U.S. with a population of 6.1 million people, 70% of which is Hispanic – a traditional bastion of boxing support.
Looking ahead, DAZN wants to work with promoters Matchroom Boxing and Golden Boy to schedule fight nights around other national sporting events like the NBA Summer League, which takes place in Las Vegas. The city will also host the 2020 NFL Draft from Thursday, April 23 through Saturday, April 25.
“We can say, ‘Hey, rather than do that fight in City A, what if we moved it to Las Vegas during NBA Summer League?’” noted Stecklow. “There’s a built-in universe again of writers, reporters, NBA stars, fans. And at 10 p.m. on a Saturday night, they might be looking to do something other than going to a magic show in Vegas. What if we had a DAZN fight then?”
Media advisor T.K. Gore thinks drafting is a smart play by DAZN. Not everybody in town for Super Bowl week has a ticket to the game, and they’re all looking for something to do, he noted. Fight Night enables DAZN to showcase its brand to athletes, celebrities, agents and sponsors who might not see it otherwise.
“This is all about customer acquisition,” said Gore.
DAZN works with the NFL in Canada and would love to pick up some U.S. rights during the league’s next round of contract negotiations in 2021-2022.
In doing so, the broadcaster has to be careful not to run afoul of the league’s strict Super Bowl sponsorship rules.
The NFL has a geographic “clean zone” around the stadium where only official league sponsors can operate Super Bowl Week, according to Stecklow. DAZN’s upcoming event is not within that zone. DAZN is also being careful not to use words like “Super” around Thursday’s event.
“They haven’t really given us a hard time. We didn’t name it ‘Super Fight Night,’ which was one of the thoughts,” Stecklow said. “They are business partners of ours, so we didn’t want to go too far. At the same time, we’re providing for them around their biggest event. They’re not paying for any of this, and we’re just providing another non-football, non-music option for all the people in town for the weekend. ”
“I don’t believe it would upset the NFL, given not every person can attend their lead up events to the Super Bowl. And plenty of other people to companies, including partners, have hosted events and parties leading up to the Super Bowl,” he said.
Founded in 2016, DAZN now controls a mix of boxing, soccer and NFL streaming rights in nine countries: the U.S., Canada, Germany, Italy, Spain, Japan, Switzerland, Austria, and Brazil.
DAZN doesn’t comment on subscribers. But it’s now up to nearly 1 million customers in the U.S. and 8 million worldwide, according to the Wall Street Journal.