The Sports Entrepreneurs Podcast by Marcus Luer

John Gleasure, “Sports Media Distribution - from Betting to OTT”

February 11, 2021

John Gleasure has been on the forefront of sports media distribution from his early days in BskyB to the dotcom boom days of Sportal to launching 3G applications for Hutchison Whampoa. And then starting Inform with a group of fellow sports executives 15 years ago which turned into PERFORM and now DAZN (the leading Sports OTT platform globally). Incredible journey and learning along the way. 


Key Highlights

  1. Playing some decent football can get you a good job, ask John.  His early days at EMI Music 
  2. BskyB, learning the ropes in the cable industry, Marketing Manager for Sky Sports, Sky Digital, his true University in business and sports 
  3. Dotcom days, Sportal – interviewed by Andrew Croker, incredible team of people, launching various websites (portals) for sports properties, wild ride – dotcom crash
  4. Leading to role at Hutchison Whampoa, Head of Sports – 3G rollout, video clips, etc – learning, it takes a lot longer than you expect for technology and consumers to pick it up (as example, the company didn’t use the Premier League rights for 1.5 years because they were not ready to deploy it)
  5. Inform Group – ventured into Entrepreneurship together with Simon Denyer, Stefano D’Anna and Mike Ingram   
  6. First business model didn’t work and then stumbled into the Live streaming for Betting websites space, started to work with Premium TV (Oli Slipper)
  7. Business started to take off and grow, merger with Premium TV to create Perform Group – mutually beneficial for both sides, bringing in Access Industries (Ukraine born, UK/US Billionaire, Sir Len Blavatnik)
  8. Lots of opportunities to grow internationally for a mostly UK based business at the time 
  9. Took role as MD APAC and moved to Asia – acquisition of content, driving new digital revenues which were not there before for rights holders, building partnerships 
  10. Key to Performs success was ingesting huge volume of content at the right cost and driving new revenue streams from it – betting revenue, PPV, other subscription services (first look at OTT)
  11. IPO in 2011, raised GBP 168 million in process, looking for growth – buying, Opta, Livesport services, etc 
  12. Going from B2B to B2C business model and the challenges along the way 
  13. De-listing in 2013 (GBP 700 mil valuation), market didn’t appreciate all the new business areas the management was exploring, including OTT – safer to be private 
  14. The start of the DAZN idea, in 2014 – OTT is much more than streaming on the web – radical change of business model 
  15. Two distinct businesses, Perform B2B and DAZN B2C – clear focus on growing DAZN and Perform needed its own home to continue its growth 
  16. Divested out of Perform,, etc – kept equity stakes – New partnership now known as "Perform Stats"
  17. How the DAZN launch markets were picked, DACH (German-speaking region) and Japan – similarities in PayTV markets and opportunities to buy strong content for a reasonable price
  18. Launching across multiple platforms from native Apps (Android & IOS), web, smart TV, consoles, Pay TV boxes, etc – find DAZN everywhere, anytime 
  19. OTT and beyond – 60-75% watch DAZN on TV in Germany – certain events over 1 million streams – watching through traditional TV still the largest viewership (surprising for me) 
  20. OTT goes way beyond traditional linear TV coverage in terms of fan engagement and user interactivity
  21. But the “old” arbitrage model is still there and pure subscription model is tough to make work, advertising still plays an important role and other revenue streams  
  22. DAZN’s global boxing offerings – US$ 1.99 per month (test price) – purchased big rights globally 
  23. Multi-sport focused, different offerings across the world. Scale is a big differentiator, better rates, etc
  24. F1 in Spain, Bundesliga and Champions League in Germany – lots of new rights coming on stream and new management firepower 
  25. Partnership model vs straight forward rights sales model – current tough times might help in a positive way if we all learn from it



John Gleasure is DAZN Group Executive Vice Chairman. In this role, he works on the company’s long-term strategy and focuses on key priorities including key global business partnerships, new ventures and diversity and inclusion. John is a member of the DAZN Group executive committee management team and is a founder of DAZN and Perform Group. With more than 25 years of experience within international media, rights, marketing and distribution, John previously held leadership roles at Sky Sports, EMI Records, Hutchison Whampoa and Sony Pictures.


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