December 19, 2018

Premier League’s move to DAZN a step into future

by Dan Bilicki In: Soccer

Many moves are called game-changers these days, but this one could literally change how you watch your favourite team.

Starting next season, in order to get into your soccer zone, you’re going to have to get into DAZN.

According to a source close to DAZN’s business, the British-based streaming service has signed a three-year deal to be the exclusive broadcast partner with the English Premier League in Canada.

“DAZN will cement itself as the home of soccer in Canada with this latest deal,” the source said. “Champions League, Premier League, La Liga, Serie A, MLS – among other leagues. Essentially all of the world’s best soccer has been brought to one platform.”

Bell Canada, owner of TSN, refused to comment on the report while the Premier League is not commenting about the TV rights deal at present since it has not been officially announced.

What the deal would do is take soccer off conventional television in Canada, which will certainly upset more than a few purists. It’s potentially a huge blow for TSN and Sportsnet, which have turned Premier League soccer into a staple of their weekend morning programming, including studio shows based around the games.

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But with the way that more and more people are cord-cutting these days, it’s not too shocking to see an entire league’s slate on a pure streaming platform – which has its own advantages.

The on-demand nature of the service also gives the option of which game you want to watch, instead of being tied to the network’s choice. As with any streaming service, you can also watch “any game, any place.”

Many will balk at what could be seen as an additional cost of DAZN’s subscription on top of your traditional sports channel package. But when you consider that you would currently need a Sportsnet World sub to watch 170 of the EPL’s 380 games this season, the cash outlay is actually even at $19.99 per month.

“This is the first time all of the world’s best soccer will be in one place in Canada,” the source said. “Once fans try out our service, they will see just how much programming and how essential the product is for any soccer enthusiast.”

And we wouldn’t cross our fingers about a deal being worked out with the networks, similar to what happened last year with the NFL.

“DAZN has no plans to sublicense games in Canada,” the source said. “DAZN will be the exclusive home of the Premier League in Canada. It is the only place you will see all the action following this season. All 380 games exclusively on DAZN.”

Technological worries are seemingly behind DAZN. It got off to a disastrous start when taking over NFL Sunday Ticket last year, with a bevy of issues leading the service to sublicense the package to Rogers and Bell. But this NFL season, complaints have been few and far between from subscribers.

Our biggest fear is what effect this deal will have on the league’s ability to grow. Moving games off of conventional TV to an on-demand format creates a barrier for entry, taking away the ability for those new to the game to be able to watch without first having a subscription. You would already have had to buy in to DAZN to watch the Premier League and its other content.

And to say that the older generation of soccer fans can be stubborn is an understatement. Will those of having been watching footie on the tube for decades make the switch – or even be able to?

It seems we’ll find out next August.

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