Back around their U.S. launch in September, DAZN executives spoke with AA’s Shlomo Sprung about their plans for original content around their fights and other live events, and some of that is now coming to fruition. The streaming service announced Thursday that they’re launching their first episodic series, and it’s going to be a three-part series around the Dec. 15 super middleweight championship fight between Canelo Alvarez and Rocky Fielding (on DAZN, of course, the first fight in Canelo’s 11-fight, $365 million deal with the service). But interestingly enough, this shoulder series is going to be distributed beyond just DAZN subscribers, also appearing on their YouTube channel and on regional sports networks. The first episode is supposed to go up later Thursday and go into wider syndication Friday; here’s more on that from their release:
“As the sports world prepares for the Dec. 15 super middleweight championship fight between Canelo Alvarez and Rocky Fielding at Madison Square Garden, DAZN will introduce its first original episodic program, THE JOURNEY: CANELO/ROCKY. The show will bring fight fans behind the scenes as both fighters prepare for this historic event. The series premiere will debut on DAZN’s platform and YouTube channel on Thursday, Dec. 6.
Increasing the program’s reach to more than 75 million households around the United States, linear airings of THE JOURNEY: CANELO/ROCKY will begin Friday, Dec. 7 on regional sports networks including NBC Sports, Fox Sports, MSG Network and NESN via the Fight Sports block. The series will also appear in Spanish on Univision Deportes. Fans can check local listings for start times.
“DAZN continues to evolve as the sports network of the future and high-end content focused on our biggest boxing events is part of the plan,” said Joseph Markowski, DAZN EVP, North America. “Fight fans are more educated than ever and we want to be an integral part in preparing them for the best and biggest fights of the year.”
The series is executive produced by Jason Bowers and Grant Best and narrated by Jaime Camil. After the Dec. 6 premiere, the second episode will debut on Dec. 13, and the third (an epilogue looking back at the fight) will come out on Dec. 21. The epilogue promises to “deliver viewers all of sights and sounds of fight night, revealing the fighter’s raw and intimate moments before, during and after their title bout.”
It’s interesting to see DAZN dive into this sort of original programming, and this particular one seems to make a lot of sense. Canelo is the biggest star associated with the platform thanks to that giant exclusive fight deal, so spending time and effort promoting him is about more than just this one fight. And distributing this series on YouTube and RSNs is a notable idea, too, and one that probably makes sense; yes, it means that people can see this programming without having to subscribe to DAZN, but the biggest thing here is promoting Canelo and the Canelo-Rocky fight, and maybe some of those who see this series will choose to subscribe to DAZN (which has a one-month free trial, after all) to check that fight out. We’ll see how this works out for them and what other original programming they produce, and we’ll see if they choose to follow this model for other shoulder programming content.