David Blecken
Aug 19, 2016

DAZN to challenge conventions for Japan launch

The sports streaming service is set to debut in Japan with a flexible content offering and a digital marketing approach.

The Ultimate Fighting Championship is part of DAZN's content offering
The Ultimate Fighting Championship is part of DAZN's content offering

Perform Group is to take a digital and data-centric approach for the Japan launch of DAZN, a sports streaming platform that promises fans more flexibility than existing content models.

Perform Group is a London-based digital sports content company. DAZN (pronounced ‘da zone’) is a live sports streaming service that Perform bills as a “world first”. Having launched in Europe (Germany, Austria and Switzerland) in early August, it is now set to make its Asia debut in Japan.

Perform recently signed a 10-year deal to stream J.League content on the platform. At ¥200 billion (US$1.88 billion), the agreement is the biggest broadcast rights sale in the history of Japanese sports. Among other events the platform will offer are the Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) and Bundesliga, according to Peter Lee, director of marketing for DAZN in Tokyo.

DAZN looks set to shake up a market that is somewhat restrictive from a consumer perspective. The service is priced relatively low (it is under €10 per month in Europe) and is expected to offer a range of options for consumption. Lee was unable to give specific details as to what those options would be, but said that in the current environment, sports enthusiasts could “easily spend up to ¥8,000 ($80) per month on subscriptions”—a high cost that many would prefer to avoid. “This is freeing you up to choose what, when on whatever device,” he said. “Globally that’s already happening, but not in Japan.”

From a brand perspective, service is all-important: DAZN has no plans to carry advertising, and will position itself as “empowering fans”, Lee said. “When we think about how fragmented sports is here, we want to make it very simple for people to consume the sports they like. Our system allows them to suspend their contracts when they like. It’s about empowering the fan through product content and making it a very simplified proposition.”

DAZN will work with Ogilvy & Mather Japan to build awareness of its brand. Lee said that Ogilvy played an important role in supporting DAZN in its bid for the J.League rights. The agency developed a creative pitch detailing how DAZN would amplify the property in Japan, which Lee said “pushed the J.League people over the line in wanting to be with us rather than other organisations”. He attributed the positive outcome in part to the diversity of Ogilvy’s staff in Japan.

The brand-building approach will differ from Japanese norms in that traditional media will only be a small component of the launch campaign, Lee said. The work will focus on programmatic digital marketing that is more targeted toward a specific audience than a large-scale TV promotion would be.

Lee said DAZN expects Japanese viewers to span a fairly broad age range—20 to 45. He said the digital-centric marketing approach would help build further understanding of consumers, which would be important to DAZN’s success in the market.

“Your ability to succeed in Japan is all down to the product and content offering,” Lee said. “We don’t want to have a pop-and-fizzle effect. Lots of organisations underestimate the Japanese consumer: they have a great first few months, then everything fizzles out. Building the brand through digital, we’ll gain insights into how people are behaving on the platform and that will allow us to build up to a better level. It drives a nice life cycle that I don’t think you can get by running a traditional media campaign.”

Lee did not specify DAZN’s launch date in Japan but said it would be before the end of August.

Campaign Japan

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