Two seasons into their exclusive four-year deal to broadcast the UEFA Women’s Champions League worldwide, Dazn claims that “turning visibility into value and sustainability” is key as they move 42 of their 61 matches behind a paywall next season.
In 2021, Europe’s governing body, UEFA, introduced a group stage for its premier women’s football competition, centralizing all commercial rights and signing exclusive broadcasting contract with Dazn Group. For the first two seasons, all 61 matches in the competition from the group stage onwards are broadcast live on the Dazn YouTube channel.
From next season, only 19 matches will be available for free, including the final, one semi-final and two quarter-finals. This leaves just 12 of the 48 group stage matches – two for each of the six match days – to be streamed for free as the competition moves to what Dazn calls a ‘paid/free hybrid mix.’
All 61 games will continue to be streamed on YouTube, but the remaining 42 games will require viewers to subscribe to the Dazn channel. Alison Lomax, Managing Director of YouTube UK & Ireland, believes that “YouTube is the best place for all kinds of sports fans. To meet fans where and when they want, whether it’s live broadcasts, long highlights of matches, highlights through Short Films , podcasts or content with players and athletes.”
“Our vision is a world where women’s and men’s sports are viewed and perceived equally and fairly, and the starting point is to create greater demand and access for women’s sports.”
Results from a value and impact report produced by industry experts Crux Sports reveal how Dazn’s coverage of the UEFA Women’s Champions League has stimulated significant growth not only in the competition itself but in the women’s game as a whole. Using extensive data analysis and interviews with all stakeholders in European women’s football, they believe they have discovered that the game is a “compelling and sustainable sporting and commercial proposition”.
They claim that as of 2021, the UEFA Women’s Champions League has been watched in over 230 territories worldwide, and the Dazn YouTube channel has gained 362,000 subscribers. The biggest viewing figures came from Spain, the USA, France, Germany, Indonesia, the United Kingdom and Italy, with Chile and Mexico also registering significant audiences even though their clubs were not involved.
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According to the report, players involved in the competition reported an increase in their self-worth with global visibility giving them a greater following on social media, which in turn generated interest from other clubs and sponsors. They even become bigger fans of their own sport because they can watch more games and learn more about other players.
One of the players interviewed for the study was Beth Mead, the BBC Women’s Footballer of the Year. Asked about the coverage of Dazn, she said: “You have people who can access it really easily and yes, I think the game in general has been projected to new heights. The social media side of things from Dazn and YouTube has been amazing, and the advertising and putting the games out there so the women’s game really gets that exposure. I think we still have such a long way to go in the women’s game that this still helps project it in the right direction.”
However, Mead’s club Arsenal were among those to express concern over the restrictive nature of Dazn’s exclusive coverage of the competition stating that “the embargoes are too restrictive – waiting three days to share highlights on club channels means the conversation has moved on by the time we we’re allowed to publish it,” adding that “the ad frequency is obnoxious” and “YouTube streams naturally make it feel like a cheaper product.”
Nonetheless, 10 of the 13 clubs that took part in the study reported a positive impact on sponsorship interest from the coverage, with seven claiming a positive impact on revenue. While the loss of domestic television coverage has caused viewership for some established clubs to decline, the creation of a more global fan base has opened up new markets and revenue streams for clubs from smaller cities such as reigning champions Lyon and this year’s finalists Wolfsburg.
“Dazn is absolutely committed to helping to grow women’s football in our key markets, across Europe and globally,” said Veronica Diquattro, CEO of Global Markets for Dazn. “Our partnership with YouTube has been a huge success as Crux Sports’ Value and Impact Report shows. We expected significant viewership growth – when you combine Dazn’s production values with YouTube’s reach and UEFA’s high competition, it’s a winning formula.”
“However, it is particularly pleasing to hear of increased commercial and sponsorship interest, match attendances and visibility in other media. We want to help the women’s game achieve its potential, reaching audiences and developing its obvious commercial appeal to create a virtuous circle of investment, growth, raising standards and overall interest.”
Former New Zealand captain and now CEO of Crux Sports, Bex Smith added “the groundbreaking partnership between YouTube and Dazn has helped take the UEFA Women’s Champions League to new heights of visibility, enabling Crux Sports to identify more wider and more significant results than expected: a positive ripple effect of increased accessibility, publicity and growth for teams, players, media, sponsors and fans in the women’s game.”
“We believe the growth of women’s sport creates a more inclusive sporting culture that reflects the world we want to live in.”
Forbes – Business