There are some executive changes coming to DAZN. As Martin Ross reports at SportBusiness.com, Simon Denyer is leaving his CEO role. Denyer (seen at left above) is a long-time figure with what’s now DAZN, as he co-founded former parent Perform Group with Oli Slipper in 2007 and then became CEO of the DAZN side in September 2018 after parts of the Perform side (specifically, the stats and business-focused services) was spun off (that side was later sold to STATS LLC parent Vista in April 2019). Now, Denyer is exiting DAZN to take a role with Access Industries, which holds a majority stake in DAZN. He’ll be replaced as CEO by chief revenue officer James Rushton (seen at right above). Here’s more from Ross’ piece:
Simon Denyer is leaving his role as chief executive of DAZN Group, the global sports subscription service and media company, SportBusiness understands, amid an executive restructure that increases the involvement of owner Access Industries.
Denyer is to be replaced by James Rushton, currently chief revenue officer, who becomes acting chief executive. Denyer will retain an association by taking a sports investment advisory role at Access Industries, the multinational industrial group.
An internal memo from John Skipper, DAZN group executive chairman, informed staff of the changes today (Monday). The memo, seen by SportBusiness, said that Access Industries owner Len Blavatnik “has asked Simon Denyer to assume a new role at Access Industries to advise on new ventures in sport”.
…In addition, Ed McCarthy, Access Industries’ corporate director and portfolio manager, has joined DAZN and will sit on the company’s executive committee, playing “a critical role” in delivering the group strategy, the memo read.
Access Industries has investments across a lot of sectors, including music (they hold a majority voting stake in Warner Music Group even after putting it back on the market earlier this year), movies and TV (especially internationally), chemical companies, real estate firms, and more, but most of their sports investments so far have been under the Perform and now DAZN umbrella (which, it should be noted, includes old Perform titles like The Sporting News and Goal, although they’re reportedly close to a sale of the latter). So it’s interesting that Denyer is moving over there to advise on other sports ventures, and we’ll see what that leads to. It’s also interesting to see a prominent Access executive like McCarthy joining the DAZN executive committee, and that perhaps indicates that DAZN is taking on greater importance within Access’ overall portfolio.
As for DAZN itself, Rushton has plenty of experience with the company. He was the CEO of the DAZN side before the DAZN/Perform combination/spinoff move in September 2018, then shifted to CRO of the new DAZN Group. So it seems unlikely there will be immediate radical changes under him, especially with Ross’ report also including that Skipper’s memo called DAZN “well-positioned” and said that Access supports its direction.
And DAZN doesn’t appear to have moved away from their aggressive rights approach. In particular, last week saw them saw sign a new deal for more Bundesliga rights in Germany from 2021-22 through 2024-25. And if they still have money and are going to stay aggressive, it may not be a bad time to do so, as the rights market currently looks weaker than it has in some time; the new Bundesliga deals came in below what the league got for its last round of deals, and in the U.S., we’ve seen recent moves by Turner and Fox to exit rights contracts (with the UEFA Champions League and the U.S. Golf Association respectively).
There are questions about how much cash DAZN has, as sports shutdowns surely haven’t been good for their OTT business. But they have made some moves to try and raise more money. If they do manage to pull that off, they could be an interesting player in several rights discussions going forward.