DAZN The DAZN logo is displayed at the company’s offices in Tokyo, Japan, on Wednesday, Aug. 2, 2017. DAZN, a UK-owned sports streaming service, rattled Japan’s broadcasting world with an audacious 210 billion yen ($1.9 billion) swoop to stream the nation’s J-League soccer competition, and has snapped up rights for sports from MLB to UFC. Photographer: Tomohiro Ohsumi/Bloomberg

“Win a trip to the Super Bowl” has been done quite a bit by various sports media companies, but DAZN is doing something different as a Super Bowl promotion this year. To celebrate their first year with NFL Sunday Ticket and RedZone rights in Canada, the sports-focused streaming service has selected Canadians who are big fans of the New England Patriots and Philadelphia Eagles, and is sending them and their friends on all-expenses-paid trips to those teams’ home cities this weekend to experience the culture there, hang out with locals and cheer on those teams alongside hometown fans. Eagles’ fan Kyle Hussey, from Lethbridge, Alberta, will get to head to Philadelphia with his wife and two friends, while Patriots’ fan Christian Parise, from Bowmanville, ON, is off to Boston with three of his friends. Paulo Senra, DAZN’s head of PR – Canada, spoke to Awful Announcing Wednesday by e-mail about how they came up with this, and how DAZN’s overall tenure in Canada is evolving.

“At DAZN, we pride ourselves at putting fans first, and so we came together and thought… while other broadcasters and media outlets would be boarding planes with their cameras heading to Minneapolis to tell the traditional Super Bowl story, there was a real opportunity here for us to do something different,” Senra said. “Our objective was to come up with a way that would give Canadian NFL fans an authentic football experience, and what better way than to put them in the middle of Super Bowl fandom. That epicenter, this weekend, without question, will be in Boston and Philadelphia.”

Senra said this struck them as a way to let Canadians experience the atmosphere around the Super Bowl in the teams’ home cities.

 “As Canadians, we don’t have access to true Super Bowl culture. Of course, we gather with family and friends and have access to the game and see social posts online, but our streets don’t fill up with avid supporters and our bars are relatively tame because we don’t have a “hometown” in the game.  And so we thought, what if we sent a few die-hard Canadian NFL fans to the cities competing in the big game? And that’s exactly what we’re doing: DAZN is sending two Canadian NFL super fans of the Eagles and Patriots who watched a ton of NFL on DAZN this year, plus three of their friends, to Boston and Philly to cheer on their teams with the hometown fans. We’re also bringing Gerry Dee, Canadian comedian and sports buff, to both cities to be part of the experience with the fans.”

He said the fans in question loved the idea.

The reactions have been awesome, and I was personally so excited to make that call to both our super fans. They are genuinely so thrilled for this trip!”

DAZN will be capturing some video content from the fans’ weekend trips and sharing it on their Twitter and Instagram accounts so other fans in Canada and elsewhere can see what the experience is like. But Senra said the main goal is to make it so these fans have an awesome weekend, and use that to show DAZN’s goal of serving sports fans.

“On Monday morning, when we’re all boarding our planes back to Canada, our hope is that our super fans and their friends look back and say: wow, that was an awesome weekend!” he said. “Everything we do is for the fans. We pride ourselves on giving subscribers authentic sport experiences and this is absolutely what we want to deliver. ”

Despite not having their service available in the U.S. yet, the Perform-owned DAZN (currently available in Austria, Germany, Japan, and Switzerland as well as Canada) is doing a lot around the Super Bowl. They also have a content team in Minneapolis covering the game and the buildup to it, with Ross Tucker (known for his work with SI, the Sporting News, NBC, etc) serving as an on-camera host.

“We have a full production team in Minneapolis, covering the Super Bowl in a more traditional manner: team arrivals, media days, and player interviews,” Senra said. “We have Ross Tucker as a host on the ground collecting some fantastic content that we are sharing with our subscribers on the DAZN platform as shoulder content and on our social channels. Some of the content is available now and we’ll continue to post as the week progresses.”

So, what about the overall DAZN story? Their launch in Canada this year didn’t go that well at first, with their purchase of exclusive rights to Sunday Ticket and NFL RedZone before the service even became available Canada drawing concern and criticism, and much more criticism coming when the early part of the NFL season was marred with technical glitches. DAZN apologized for the issues, offered some refunds, and even struck deals with some TV providers so Sunday Ticket on TV was an option again, but the launch was anything but smooth, and when added to the backlash we’ve seen in Europe over NFL Game Pass changes, it added to the wider questions about the NFL’s changing streaming strategies in international markets. Senra said DAZN has listened to the feedback and improved, though, with some of those improvements coming over the course of the season and others still that will be in place for next year.

“Since our initial platform challenges in September 2017, we’ve seen a 43 percent increase in the number of our subscribers streaming NFL games in HD and more than 90 percent of our subscribers are now enjoying an HD-quality stream among all of our living room devices and web. These improvements are a direct result of us making several fixes:
  • Reducing playback errors to a quarter of those received by customers on the first weekend, starting with the most impacted platforms with the biggest user base.

  • Dropping bit rates by over 20 per cent which has led to improved HD rates, while simultaneously reducing video start time and re-buffering. We plan to make further reductions to ensure we are below average bitrates in the Canadian market.

  • Optimized relationship with Content Delivery Networks (CDNs) and increased usage of better performing CDNs in the Canadian market. Optimizing our pre-game checks.

  • Looking at every incident, minor or otherwise, and putting plans in place to eradicate whatever has caused problems to our customers.

  • Additionally, we have made new hires across the business and restructured to ensure that every new market has its own dedicated product and tech team dedicated to that market.”

And Senra said DAZN has big plans for the Canadian market, with the NFL and beyond.

“Our NFL partnership is a 5-year deal, so we’ll continue to be the only place in Canada with access to every single NFL game and RedZone. Just this past week we announced a new partnership with the PGA TOUR, and the rights to carry live coverage of more than 30 PGA TOUR events. Just this morning, we announced a new three-year Six Nations Rugby partnership. …DAZN also has recently added a variety of top European soccer leagues including: La Liga, Ligue 1, and Serie A.”

He said there’s more to come as well.  

“We have several other big additions to our platform in the coming days and weeks and we’re absolutely committed to growing our sports offering in Canada. We at DAZN are continuously looking for new opportunities to bring Canadian sports fans closer to the athletes and sports they love, and that includes domestic rights here in Canada, major US sports as well as significant international rights.”

So, DAZN certainly intends to be a player on the Canadian rights scene for some time. How well that’s received is going to depend on the quality of the product, but it does sound like they’re making some strides there. And this promotion’s definitely a different idea, and it seems like both a cool way to expose some Canadian fans to the NFL experience in these teams’ home cities and a way to spur some positive conversation about DAZN and the NFL. It’s also notable that they’re doing their own content from the Super Bowl, and  it will be interesting to see how that’s received. We’ll see what’s next for them.

About Andrew Bucholtz

Andrew Bucholtz has been covering sports media for Awful Announcing since 2012. He is also a staff writer for The Comeback. His previous work includes time at Yahoo! Sports Canada and Black Press.