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DAZN Steps to the Plate with MLB Digital Rights Deal

Digital streaming OTT sports service DAZN will add baseball to its lineup of ring sports content as part of a three-year, $300 million deal announced Thursday.

The $9.99 a month DAZN service -- which sent shock waves through the boxing and MMA sports circles this year with its signing of marquee fighters such as middleweight champion Canelo Alvarez to exclusive fight distribution deals and combat sports franchises such as Bellator MMA to long-term distribution agreements-- will offer to its subscribers a live nightly MLB-themed show that will feature look-ins to live baseball games. 

Similar to the NFL’s Red Zone channel, DAZN’s show will “seamlessly whip around the live MLB games to showcase the most suspenseful moments, crucial plays and biggest rallies,” according to the service.

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The DAZN deal was announced in the wake of MLB’s new multi-year agreement with Fox Sports that will give Fox continued exclusive access to the World Series and MLB All-Star game through 2028.

“DAZN’s multisport streaming platform provides Major League Baseball and our clubs an important opportunity to extend the game’s digital reach,” said commissioner Robert Manfred.

For DAZN, which launched here in the states in September, the deal takes the service beyond the combat sports ring and onto the field of the major sports leagues with content it hopes will appeal to young, cord-cutting sports fans. 

“We are thrilled to partner with MLB on this important new initiative, which will be a great complement to and promotion of the outstanding lineup of live games from its national and regional broadcasters,” said DAZN Group executive chairman John Skipper in a statement. “We will target young multicultural fans, many of whom do not have pay television. The fast-paced nature of a whip-around show will appeal to this audience and bring in new fans. Ultimately, our goal with MLB is to grow both the overall audience for baseball and the burgeoning DAZN business.”

RELATED: Punching Up: How OTT services are scoring wins against pay-per-view with ring-sports viewers

R. Thomas Umstead serves as senior content producer, programming for Multichannel News, Broadcasting + Cable and Next TV. During his more than 30-year career as a print and online journalist, Umstead has written articles on a variety of subjects ranging from TV technology, marketing and sports production to content distribution and development. He has provided expert commentary on television issues and trends for such TV, print, radio and streaming outlets as Fox News, CNBC, the Today show, USA Today, The New York Times and National Public Radio. Umstead has also filmed, produced and edited more than 100 original video interviews, profiles and news reports featuring key cable television executives as well as entertainers and celebrity personalities.