February 19th, Tokyo
It was a big week for fans of DAZN in Japan! Following the announcement that a deal had been agreed with SoftBank to acquire a whole host of their sporting rights, DAZN can now truly be recognised as the ‘home of Sport’ in Japan. We’re thrilled to be adding so much fresh and exciting content to the platform, and DAZN subscribers can now enjoy more premium sport, on both a domestic and international scale, than ever before.
Following the news, we sat down with Commercial Director Joe Markowski to discuss the inner workings of the deal and its significance for DAZN, as well as sports fans in Japan.
• Hi Joe, can you tell us what new rights will be available for sports fans in Japan with this new deal?
We’ll be broadcasting the incredibly popular Nippon Baseball League, having acquired the rights to 11 of the 12 teams currently competing in Japan’s premier Baseball competition. As well as this we’ll have more games than ever before from the English Premier League and Spain’s La Liga, so Japanese fans can enjoy seeing how the likes of national team superstars Shinji Okazaki, Maya Yoshida and Takashi Inui are getting on competing in two of Europe’s leading footballing competitions. Subscribers will also be treated to the very best from the B.League, the domestic Japanese basketball league.
• What does this deal mean for DAZN?
This is a huge moment for us in Japan, and it puts us into remarkably strong position from a content perspective. With our J.League and European Football offering, DAZN is already the home of football in Japan – this deal makes us the home of baseball and other great sports too.
• What does the deal mean for sports fans in Japan?
A couple of things, I think. Firstly, it means that more fans, namely the baseball and basketball fans, can access their favourite sport at a far more affordable price than they have before. Secondly, for the multi-sport fan, it means that DAZN is the only place they need to come to get their sport. That’s a huge step and it’s never been done in Japan before.
• What’s the significance of baseball to Japan?
Baseball is the No. 1 sport in Japan. The NPB domestic competitions drive a huge amount of interest, and the atmosphere at the stadiums on match day is awesome. The MLB attracts a few Japanese players, too – Japanese fans love to see their own do well on the international stage, so Shohei Ohtahni’s move to the Angels is a massive talking point at the moment. The great thing about our new baseball content is that we are now part of all these conversations, and engaging with fans on them.
• What can subscribers in Japan expect from DAZN this year and beyond?
Of course, a load of high-quality content, but I think the most notable change this year will probably be the new product initiatives we are rolling out. Until now, the focus of tech teams has been getting DAZN working on various platforms and devices – Playstation, Amazon Fire Stick etc. – which was obviously a hugely important focus to ensure people could access the service everywhere. Now comes the fun part – our subscribers will see a load of cool functionality and features start coming onto the product, enhancing their experience whilst watching their favourite sport. I’m particularly excited to see what we are doing with broadcast data integration – that’s not something that’s been done a lot in Japanese sports broadcasting, so I think our users will love it.