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DAZN founder Len Blavatnik (left) and Kevin Mayer. Photos by Bloomberg and AP

A ‘Netflix for Sports’ Wagers on League Deals, Betting to Save Streaming Dreams

By and  |  May 4, 2022 6:00 AM PDT
Photo: DAZN founder Len Blavatnik (left) and Kevin Mayer. Photos by Bloomberg and AP

Early last year, it looked like DAZN might finally be turning a corner.

The streaming company—bankrolled by Ukraine-born billionaire mogul Len Blavatnik—had survived the shutdown of live sports during the pandemic, a near-death experience for a company with the ambition of becoming a global Netflix for sports. It beat out British broadcaster Sky for the rights to stream Serie A soccer matches, Italy’s top league, a deal the company hoped would help lift its subscriber numbers to 13 million by the end of 2021 from around 9 million at the start of the year. Blavatnik was even considering taking the company public through a merger with a special purpose acquisition company.

Since then, though, DAZN has hit a wall. Its subscriber numbers have stalled at around 11 million, said people familiar with the situation. It lost more than $1 billion last year on around $1.4 billion in revenue, and is on track to lose roughly another $900 million this year, those people said. Meanwhile, talks to go public have fizzled amid a collapse of the SPAC market.  And a big chunk of the company’s management team has been pushed out.

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