DAZN offers over-the-top access to a wide range of sports including America’s National Football League and many of the top soccer leagues. But is it worth the worth the money? Read our review of the DAZN sports streaming service to find out.
We’ll start with an introduction to DAZN (it’s pronounced “da-zone”) and explain how it has made waves in the sports world in little more than a year. Then we’ll look at the subscription options, who can subscribe, and which platforms can get the DAZN sports streaming service. After a walkthrough of the DAZN web app, we’ll take a look at the content that makes DAZN so competitive – and the issues that hold it back. Finally, I’ll explain how I rated DAZN and make my final recommendations.
Let’s get started!
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The DAZN sports streaming service sets itself apart by providing a unique combination of content that’s hard to get in the countries it serves. Britain’s Perform Group, a digital sports media company, launched the service in German-speaking countries in August 2016. It expanded into Japan and then, in mid-2017, into Canada.
One of the hallmarks of DAZN’s strategy is its aggressive pursuit of license deals with major sports leagues. The Japanese media industry went into shock last year when DAZN secured a ten-year, ¥200 billion (US$1.9 billion) licensing deal to stream the J.League’s soccer matches and taking it away from hometown player Sky Perfect. Joji Komaki, Sky Perfect’s director told the Japan Times “Our annual revenue is less than ¥200 billion. We can’t consider spending that on just one content [deal].” And it wasn’t just one: DATV also secured Japanese streaming rights for English Premiere League and Champions League matches.
DAZN repeated that coup when it entered the Canadian market by securing exclusive streaming access to the National Football League. This instantly made DAZN a serious option for Canadian cord-cutters.
Perform Group CEO James Rushton said in a press release, “We know that for Canadians sport is a way of life, they are crazy about it and have had to put up with a costly experience for some time. DAZN is designed to put fans first, so we’re confident fans in Canada will enjoy our product and proposition.”
The DAZN sports streaming service uses an ad-free subscription business model to provide licensed sports content in a limited number of countries in Europe, North America, and Asia.
You have two options when signing up for DAZN, month-to-month at $20 or annual at $150.
DAZN is confident enough in the popularity of its lineup that it gives new subscribers the first month for free. You still have to provide a credit card up front, but DAZN won’t charge you until the second month starts.
Another nice feature is the ability to suspend your DAZN subscription rather than cancel it. If the NFL is your only reason for joining DAZN, this lets you suspend your subscription during the off season. Suspend your service by logging into the account section, selecting “Cancel subscription”, selecting “Pause”, and then giving a date when you want your subscription to resume.
Only a few countries can get DAZN. The service launched in Austria, Germany, and Switzerland last year before entering Japan a few weeks later. In early 2017, DAZN expanded into Canada. US subscribers get a very limited service.
Subscribers who travel within its five main markets get full access to the content DAZN streams in that country. The content – and the language – may not be the same as what they get in their home country due to licensing restrictions. If DAZN subscribers travel outside those five countries, they will not get access since the licenses DAZN signs with each league restricts the streams to certain countries.
Before anyone gets any bright ideas, you probably won’t be able to subscribe through a VPN. DAZN checks your credit card to make sure it is registered to an address in one of the four countries DAZN serves. If it doesn’t, you don’t get in.
MacOS and Windows computers get access through the browser rather than dedicated apps. You can stream DAZN through a wide range of apps that include Android and iOS devices, Sony and Microsoft game consoles, and several smart TVs. Roku, Apple TV and Fire TV streaming devices also have DAZN apps.
Reviews of these apps are mixed. DAZN gets extra credit for its wide selection of sports, but many people struggle to get consistent high definition streams.
More than 4,800 Android and Chromecast users in Canada have given the DAZN app only 3.1 stars. Criticism includes buffering issues, crashing apps, and problems syncing audio. More than 4,100 reviews on the Apple App Store in Germany, on the other hand, gave it 4.5 stars. They still complained about the streaming quality, but gave DAZN the benefit of the doubt for its selection of sports.
Several people complained about the way DAZN handles TV timeouts during broadcast games. The NFL feed does not stay on the field, but it doesn’t shift to advertising either. Instead, DAZN runs an ad promoting its own service… and runs it over and over again.
DAZN Sports Streaming Service Walkthrough
DAZN takes a minimalist approach to its landing page. It describes the service with text and line drawings, but you don’t get a chance to see the interface or the content until you subscribe. Once you do, you get full access to the DAZN content except…
You will do most of your navigation from the DAZN Home screen. When it opens, the video player automatically plays a featured video stream. Scrolling down takes you through a series of curated live streams and on-demand content.
This shows currently available live streams or on-demand content.
NFL Game Pass
Scroll through to find which games are streaming live, NFL on-demand programs, and recaps of completed games.
DAZN will highlight recently played games which you can watch in a condensed thirty-minute or sixty-minute formats. It also gives you a heads-up for games scheduled over the next twenty-four hours.
Links to the most popular content being streamed right now.
Scan through a list of upcoming live streams
You are better off going to the menu and picking Schedule, rather than relying on that “Coming Up” carousel. It will show you all of the games and tournaments for more than a week. The Schedule, however, only serves as a point of reference. You can’t set alerts and, since DAZN doesn’t offer a DVR service, you can’t schedule a recording.
You can filter content by sports. The available categories include Basketball, Darts, Hockey, Soccer, Tennis, and NFL Game Pass.
What is the Content Like?
The DAZN sports streaming service has earned a well-deserved reputation for the scope of its offerings. Its aggressive efforts to secure streaming rights from the biggest sports leagues makes it a contender for a share of a cord-cutting sports fan’s wallet. But it isn’t perfect….
My experience with DAZN matched the many complaints in the app store. I had frequent buffering issues, dropped frames, and audio glitches. The NFL video stream itself had a low frame rate.
DAZN recommends 5 Mbps download speeds to get standard definition streams and 9 Mbps download speeds to get high definition streams. If your internet connection is faster than that, then DAZN’s support site says it must be a problem with your device.
Given how consistently DAZN customers across its geographies complain about the streaming quality, take the support site’s finger pointing with a hefty pinch of salt.
NFL Game Pass
This is the reason DAZN got so much attention in Canada. Up until 2017, NFL Game Pass was only available as part of a premium package through Rogers and other cable providers. Those packages typically cost $300 or more. DAZN bundles it into the subscription – and NFL Game Pass is only available through DAZN.
DAZN’s Alex Rice explained to the Toronto Sun that DAZN is “not going to distribute these NFL products to other pay platforms in Canada.”
That doesn’t mean Canadians can’t watch the NFL. Between the CTV broadcast network and TSN cable network, Canadians can watch all of the NFL Sunday, Monday, and Thursday night games plus select Sunday afternoon games.
DAZN’s differentiator is the ability to stream all NFL games as well as the NFL Network and NFL Red Zone broadcasts.
DAZN gives Canadians a comprehensive lineup of soccer live streams from Europe, Asia, and Latin America. The lineup includes the English Football League; UEFA Europe and Champions Leagues; Brazil’s Campeonato Paulista, Campeonato Carioca and Brazil League; Argentina’s Superliga; Italy’s Serie A; France’s Ligue 1; Japan’s J.League; and Spain’s La Liga.
You can also catch major tournaments like the Copa del Rey, EFL Championship, and the EFL Cup.
Basketball and baseball
Canadian subscribers won’t find much live basketball on DAZN since the NBA and MLB licenses apply only to the other geographies.
Ditto Canada’s national past time. DAZN only has rights to stream NHL games in Europe (but not Switzerland) and Japan. Canadians do, however, get to watch the Russian-organized Kontinental Hockey League.
Tennis, darts, snooker, motocross and other sports regularly appear on DAZN, but not always from the top-level leagues or tournaments.
Overall Review: 6.5
Content quality: 7
DAZN’s ability to stream live games from the NFL and many soccer leagues attracts many cord-cutting sports fans. If your primary interest is football and football, then DAZN is definitely something you should look into. DAZN’s remaining content covers a broad spectrum of sports, but not deeply. Unless DAZN can spend what it takes to land more licensing deals with each sport’s big leagues, it really can’t claim to be the go-to over-the-top streaming service for sports fans.
Streaming quality: 5
It’s entirely possible that something was wrong with my network connection. Many people seem to have no problem getting clear, consistent streams. But given the fact that my experience with DAZN matched many complaints in app store reviews – and DAZN’s embarrassing debut in Japan – I have to assume that the streaming quality I experienced is typical. The dropped frames, buffering pauses, and audio issues became infuriating after a while.
Device support: 6
DAZN has invested considerable resources creating apps for many of today’s most popular platforms. It’s also going back to support older platforms like the PlayStation 3. All of that should have earned DAZN a score of 9 (the highest I give without formal support for Plex or Kodi).
Credit where credit is due. DAZN delivers on price. Compare Canada’s $20 monthly subscription (about $16 in the United States) to the US$45 subscription for FuboTV. The annual subscription lowers the monthly cost below $13 (about US$10). At the same time, however, value is about more than price. FuboTV gets a higher price because it offers much more from the major sports leagues.
The streaming issues experienced by so many DAZN customers are real. Diehard football and soccer fans may be willing to overlook DAZN’s inconsistent performance since DAZN one of the few services that let you stream so many sports in one place. If that’s you, then make the most of the free month DAZN gives you to make sure you can accept the streaming quality.
But I can’t recommend the DAZN sports streaming service for the general cord-cutter given the many streaming issues. An over-the-air antenna may be a better way to get more sports into your digital life.