Cristiano Ronaldo teams up with DAZN – and the benefit is mutual

As OTT sports platform DAZN gear up for their first season broadcasting a rich portfolio of live sport in Italy – including Serie A – the company have made their own superstar signing of the transfer window.

Juventus’s Cristiano Ronaldo – a calcio newbie himself – is now a DAZN ambassador, and it’s not just fans in Italy who will see an upside to this deal.

DAZN is a global platform with rights in numerous countries around the world. Ronaldo is, obviously, a global star with much bigger followings in those countries than the broadcaster has. Then again, Ronaldo has bigger social media followings in most regions than almost anyone else in the world.

So the partnership makes perfect sense for DAZN, who will be able to leverage the player and his fame in numerous markets around the world. Their customers, too, will presumably start seeing some exclusive Ronaldo content soon.

I go back to something I wrote about last month – itself written on the back of a quip on Twitter – if you want to boost your club’s worldwide profile on social media and beyond, the easiest thing you can do is buy Cristiano Ronaldo! Both Juventus and DAZN have seen the benefit in doing just that. His hundreds of millions of followers online make his reach spectacular, but given the fact that so many of those fans are dedicated to him above the team he happens to play for, he’s a real catch for his new club and his new sponsor.

We know (or at least can guess) what’s in it for DAZN, but what Ronaldo stands to gain is more interesting. Apart, presumably, from another sizeable sponsorship deal, this could be something of a strategic partnership for the footballer, too.

The rise of OTT services in sport has been a topic ripe for discussion of late and could have many profound effects, but one of the things that hasn’t been spoken about too much is the fact that new streaming companies are global broadcasters. Territorial rights still exist, and it’s hard to see that changing any time soon, but theoretically the internet breaks those boundaries.

Look at Netflix or Amazon Prime, for example, who create bespoke films and series. It wouldn’t be surprising if someone like Spotify was looking at the possibility commissioning musicians to create original albums for the platform. And if a sports broadcaster like DAZN could make its own content, then it similarly wouldn’t need any rights to distribute that to a worldwide audience.

You can see why that might be attractive to a global star like Ronaldo. The Portuguese star’s own life resembles a reality TV programme already and that’s even before you factor in any video of him actually playing football. The interest in Juventus’s recent Netflix documentary or Manchester City’s similar fly-on-the-wall Amazon series shows there’s a market for cinematic behind the scenes content. The success of Ronaldo and others on Instagram shows there’s a huge appetite for glimpses into the lives of sports stars, too (if we didn’t know that already.) Even when Ronaldo finally retires there will still be some scope to leverage his celebrity.

“The world is changing and thanks to an innovative approach, DAZN is breaking down barriers for sports fans. Now we can watch sport however and whenever we want, which is why, for me, being part of DAZN’s journey was an easy decision to make,” Ronaldo is quoted as saying in the press release.

So, is this the start of something bigger?

About author

Chris McMullan
Chris McMullan 731 posts

Chris is a sports journalist and editor of Digital Sport - follow him on Twitter @CJMcMullan_

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