MADRID — Sports streamer DAZN dazzled on Wednesday in Madrid, officially launching in Spain, its eighth territory worldwide, with rights to Spain of MotoGP, Premiere League and Euro League basketball, a thumping promo at a press conference, a beaming MotoGP world champion Marc Marquez on stage, and the double-backed announcements that Brazilian soccer icon Neymar had signed on as a DAZN global ambassador and ex-Chelsea, Real Madrid and Man U.’s José Mourinho, the most acerbic of soccer managers, as a commentator.
But can DAZN actually make money?
History is not on its side. “The market for broadcasting top-notch sporting events, which means soccer in Europe, and national leagues, looks like one where the winner takes all, because the winner creates synergies bundling [sports] with entertainment content and sustaining the interest of the whole family,” said François Godard, at Enders Analysis, citing the fate of sports rights contenders such as Setanta Sports, which went out of business, or Italy’s Mediaset. which has given up competing with Sky Italia for sports.
Second, Godard argues, sports broadcasting offers ever bigger and better images. DAZN, in contrast, targets a younger cell-phone/laptop crowd by OTT, bowing in Spain for €4.99 ($5.6) a month, which even impecunious millennials can afford. The question is whether such a market will pay in big enough numbers to justify the big bucks paid even for “secondary sports.” The fact DAZN has yet to give any granularity on subscription takeup in its initial territories is not the most encouraging of signs.
NEWEN ACQUIRES A MAJORITY STAKE IN BELGIUM’S DE MENSEN
First TF1 bought up the whole of French production giant Newen in 2015. Now Newen has opened up a London office, and bought a 30% stake in Nimbus, the Danish producer of “The Bridge,” and 60% in Dutch compnay Pupkin, and now 60% in De Mensen, one of the largest independent production group in Belgium. It is also one of the most courted, producer of Netflix’s “Hotel Beau Séjour,” a banner Belgium Noir series and winner at 2017’s Series Mania, and of 2018 Canneseries’ competitor “Undercover,” an offbeat dysfunctional crime family drama set at a camping site and backed by Federation Ent. and Netflix. Raf Uten and Maurits Lemmens, founders of the production company, will keep the remaining 40% of De Mensen and will continue to manage the company. “One of our main priorities is to create European fiction by collaborating with international players,” said Bibiane Godfroid, chairwoman of Newen. Consolidation is ramping up fast in Europe’s drama series sector, as are production ambitions. Newen gives De Mensen a big company to turn to for potential co-production funding and distribution, De Mensen offers a source of local and international hits.
DOPAMINE, ONZA BEGIN FILMING OF ‘HÉRNAN’
Mexico’s Dopamine – a Grupo Salinas company – and Spanish production-sales company Onza Comunicación have announced that the upcoming Spanish-Mayan-Nahuatl-language drama “Hérnan,” based on the life and stories of famed Spanish conquistador Hernán Cortés, has kicked off filming in Mexico. The series will be two seasons long, with eight episodes in each. Dopamine is billing the series as the most ambitious Spanish-language fiction series filmed in Latin America to date, and boasts that the show will have an innovative narrative structure meant to appeal to modern audiences. Series will star Berlin Shooting Star and Spanish Academy Goya winner Óscar Jaenada as the Spanish conqueror responsible for the fall of the Aztec empire.
DRAMACORP HIRES NICE DRAMA’S HENRIK JANSSON-SCHWEIZER
Swedish high-concept drama production company Dramacorp, a Beta Film company, has hired Nice Drama’s Henrik Jansson-Schweizer as the company’s new creative director and executive producer. He previously held the same position at Belgium’s Nice Drama, which he co-founded in 2009. The move will see Jansson-Schweizer reunited with Patrick Nebout, a fellow Nice Drama co-founder, who launched Dramacorp in 2016. During their time together at Nice Drama, the two produced on feature films such as the Oscar-nominated “The Hundred-Year-Old Man Who Climbed Out of the Window and Disappeared,” and series like the French-Swedish co-production and Scandi Noir standout “Midnight Sun.”