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Streaming-Sports Outlet DAZN Taps Tracy Morgan for First U.S. Ad Pitch (EXCLUSIVE)

Tracy Morgan’s new mission is to turn TV-sports fans into streaming-sports addicts.

DAZN, the streaming-video sports outlet led by former ESPN chief John Skipper, is ramping up its promotional efforts by launching its first U.S. branding effort, with a goal of getting sports fans to sign up for its still nascent service. The company, operated by the U.K.’s Perform Group, last year launched with a $9.99 per month price tag, but last month announced it would charge new subscribers $19.99 per month while also offering a $99 annual fee, all ahead of its move to launch a baseball show and stream a new spate of combat sports events.

The new ad has comic actor Morgan telling viewers they should subscribe to DAZN rather than stream sports illegally or fork over high prices for pay-per-view events. “DAZN is blowing up the fight game,” says Morgan, who soon chants “Bye-bye pay per view!”

The commercial will be seen first Sunday during a broadband stream of the WWE’s Wrestlemania this weekend, and then begin to air more widely April 8. The commercial is slated to air during TNT’s coverage of the NBA Playoffs; NBCSN’s coverage of English Premier League; and NBC’s broadcast of the Kentucky Derby. It will also air on  Univision, Telemundo, A&E, Paramount Network, Adult Swim, and MLB Network. DAZN tapped Denstu Aegis Network to help craft the ads.

The Wrestemania salvo gets DAZN in front of fans who understand streaming – and are willing to pay for it. But the TV ads represent an interesting play: putting DAZN among the ranks of digital-video players who have taken to traditional TV to prod couch potatoes to start streaming.

As TV networks cast about for new streams of ad revenue, one of their most avid customers are marketers of streaming-video service, who range from Hulu to Netflix to Google. Now an aggressive sports competitor is taking to the field, using TV sports events to tell TV viewers to consider an alternative to TV.

DAZN takes to the field, as it were, as the competition for streaming sports rights is getting fierce. ESPN recently struck a deal with UFC that makes the mixed-martial arts league’s pay-per-view events available exclusively on its new streaming service ESPN+ in the U.S. for the next seven years. The availability of UFC matches has been a key factor in getting people to take up a subscription to the new ESPN service.

Interest in DAZN has been fueled by the rights deals it has struck with  Viacom’s Bellator MMA and Eddie Hearn’s Matchroom Boxing, among others. DAZN launches the ad campaign ahead of its expected May 4 broadcast of a fight between Canelo Alvarez and Daniel Jacobs, as well as some other big MMA and boxing matches in May and June.

The humor in the ommercial with Morgan is reminiscent of that used in dozens of ads cooked up for ESPN by ad-agency Wieden + Kennedy. Those ads featured ESPN anchors, sports-team mascots and star athletes cavorting in bizarre fashion in the hallways of ESPN’s Bristol, Connecticut headquarters and played a large role in helping to make the Disney-owned sports giant a familiar entity to millions of sports fans over the course of nearly three decades.

 

 

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