Blavatnik splits Perform Group to fund ‘Netflix of sport’
THE billionaire Sir Len Blavatnik is plotting to split his sports media empire in two and sell half of it to help finance his costly attempt to create the “Netflix of sport”.
Perform Group, which owns the live streaming service DAZN and a collection of sports rights, production and data businesses, is working with bankers from UBS on the plans, City sources revealed.
Sir Len, a British and American citizen who was born in Ukraine, has pumped hundreds of millions of pounds into DAZN. It is rapidly consuming cash as it buys rights to football, such as Japan’s J. League, and other sports around the world.
London-based Perform, which Sir Len’s holding company Access Industries took private in a £700m buy-out four years ago, announced a fortnight ago that it would reorganise itself to separate DAZN and consumer websites such as Goal.com from its wholesale operations. They include video feeds for gambling operators and Opta, the data service used by football coaches to track player performance.
The company is to be renamed DAZN Group, with the wholesale business held under an independent governance structure as Perform Content. This unit is due to be spun off in a sale to new owners. “The money raised will help fund the growth of DAZN,” said a source familiar with the plans.
B2B business have previously been Perform Group’s biggest sales engine. Perform Content reported revenues of £278m last year out of a total turnover of £439m.
New deals to distribute international broadcasting rights for sports bodies such as the NFL boosted Perform Content sales by £81m. Such strategically valuable partnerships are to be retained as part of DAZN Group.
Last year, as DAZN launched its subscription streaming service in a string of new markets, sales rocketed from less than £9m to more than £90m.
Last month it made its debut in the US, the world’s biggest pay-tv market, by broadcasting heavyweight boxing clash between Anthony Joshua and Alexander Povetkin. DAZN also targets subscribers in Germany, Austria, Switzerland, Japan, Canada and Italy. It has so far avoided the UK on an assessment that sports rights are too expensive.
DAZN’S expansion has come at a steep cost, however. At the end of last year it had committed £2.6bn to sports rights and by March this year Sir Len had lent the venture £542m.
Supporters of J. League team Shimizu S-pulse cheer on their side. Streaming firm DAZN have secured a 10-year, $2bn (£1.5bn) deal to broadcast Japanese football