DAZN has reportedly acquired broadcast rights to the Saudi Pro League, meaning it will stream every game from the Saudi top football division to UK viewers.
The news marks a key step for DAZN, with football broadcasting rights in the country being immensely challenging and being something that has been a key focus for the platform.
The new broadcasting rights will commence with Steven Gerrard’s first league game as Al-Ettifaq Manager when he takes on Cristiano Ronaldo’s Al-Nassr on 14 August.
The clash of the two footballing legends underlines the growth in star power of the league, with a multitude of big name signings incoming in the recent window from some of Europe’s most famous clubs.
As the league picked up momentum in the European market last year, largely fuelled by Ronaldo joining in January, Sky Sports picked up the rights to the second half of the campaign. However, this season marks the first in which a UK broadcaster has committed to the full season schedule.
Moreover, It was only last week that DAZN CFO Darren Waterman suggested that it is ‘only a matter of time’ before Premier League officials fully embrace such platforms.
A key factor into Waterman’s argument was that DAZN is ‘uniquely placed’ in several territories outside of the UK. He also mentioned that it may use a similar add-on subscription-based service to showcase top-division matches as it already does for NFL games with DAZN Game Pass.
Whilst Premier League rights continue to elude the OTT group, picking up the Saudi Pro League rights can help further edge the firm into the mindset of football fans in the region.
DAZN’s previous rights in the UK have been largely based around combat sports – with their flagship partnership being with Matchroom Boxing, Eddie Hearn and Anthony Joshua, as well as a key partnership with burgeoning MMA promotion, the PFL.
Whilst the Saudi will be seen by many as something of a gamble, the star power that competition has acquired in the past few months will inevitably draw eyes to the league.