Zoned out

DAZN cracks, makes deals with ca­ble providers

Sunday Sports - - SPORTS - JOHN KRYK

Cana­di­ans, our long na­tional foot­ball night­mare is over.

Post­media learned Satur­day morn­ing that DAZN, the U.K.-based com­pany that bought five-year ex­clu­sive rights in Canada to stream all NFL games live, fi­nally has suc­cumbed to pub­lic pres­sure and is be­gin­ning to al­low do­mes­tic ca­ble and satel­lite com­pa­nies to of­fer the Sun­day Ticket all-games ser­vice.

Deals with Shaw (ca­ble and satel­lite) and SaskTel (ca­ble) were com­pleted Satur­day morn­ing, Post­media was first to re­port.

DAZN con­firmed this news early Satur­day af­ter­noon in the fol­low­ing tweeted state­ment:

“In our on­go­ing con­ver­sa­tion with Cana­dian sports fans, one point has been con­sis­tently com­mu­ni­cated: The de­sire of Cana­dian fans to have choice in how they watch their sports.

“DAZN and the NFL have lis­tened to our fans, and are pleased to an­nounced that start­ing this Sun­day, we’ve en­tered into part­ner­ships with Shaw and SaskTel to of­fer fans an­other way to watch NFL Sun­day Ticket, while en­joy­ing the ad­di­tional con­tent and flex­i­bil­ity that comes with DAZN.

“We are look­ing for­ward to de­vel­op­ing these and other part­ner­ships in Canada, as we con­tinue to in­vest in con­tent and the im­prove­ment of our ser­vice. We hope to share de­tails on this soon.”

DAZN in­deed was ne­go­ti­at­ing with other ca­ble and satel­lite providers on Satur­day morn­ing, in­clud­ing Rogers ca­ble, ac­cord­ing to two sources.

A Rogers spokesper­son de­nied that such talks took place Satur­day.

“We know some fans and cus­tomers want NFL Sun­day Ticket back on ca­ble TV, where it of­fers the best view­ing ex­pe­ri­ence,” Rogers Com­mu­ni­ca­tions said in a state­ment is­sued to Post­media early Satur­day af­ter­noon. “We’ll con­tinue to work to bring our cus­tomers the best pos­si­ble sports ex­pe­ri­ence, but we don’t have any up­dates to share at this time.”

Bell Me­dia had no im­me­di­ate com­ment.

DAZN is a live and on­de­mand sports stream­ing ser­vice along the lines of Net­flix. It of­fers no ca­ble or satel­lite view­ing op­tions of NFL games; rather, only a stream­ing feed to web-con­nected dig­i­tal de­vices such as Smart TVs, tablets, smart­phones and games con­soles.

Cana­di­ans across the coun­try com­plained loudly, and in large num­bers, from the get-go about a wide range of re­cep­tion prob­lems. Some brands of some de­vices could not con­nect prop­erly, or at all. Many ru­ral sub­scribers couldn’t con­nect at all be­cause of low-band­width is­sues that typ­i­cally plague their web ex­pe­ri­ences. Other prob­lems in­cluded con­stant re­buffer­ing, lack of HD video, dropouts in au­dio, no au­dio at all for long pe­ri­ods, and de­layed avail­abil­ity of pregame shows and even games.

These and other tech­ni­cal sna­fus ru­ined the game-watch­ing ex­pe­ri­ence for many frus­trated Cana­di­ans coast-to-coast. Not all Cana­di­ans ex­pe­ri­enced such is­sues.

To un­der­stand the depth of many Cana­di­ans NFL fans’ anger, one sub­scriber at the end of his rope last month tweeted: “@DAZN_ CA is the worst thing Euro­peans have brought to Canada since small­pox.”

CTV and TSN, both owned by Bell Me­dia, carry all prime­time NFL games live, but only se­lect games on Sun­day af­ter­noons.

Cana­di­ans who want to be able to watch any NFL game live this sea­son have had no other op­tion (well, le­gal op­tion) but to buy DAZN, which of­fered a dis­counted fee of $20 per month with no monthly min­i­mum, which in­cludes ac­cess to a few other sports in­clud­ing some of the best Euro­pean pro soc­cer matches.

AP

Af­ter a dis­as­trous first four weeks of the sea­son, DAZN has struck deals with ca­ble providers which will al­low them to air NFL Sun­day Ticket games.

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