EXCLUSIVE: With the Champions League staging a condensed tournament with March Madness-like potential, one of the soccer league’s key media partners is tapping a big basketball name to promote tournament coverage.
DAZN, which has exclusive rights to the league in Canada, decided to embrace the unique trifecta of basketball, Canada and soccer-loving roots in former NBA MVP Steve Nash. He lives in California, and teamed with Holden there to film five two-to-five-minute recreations of famous moments from the Champions League’s history.
The vignettes put a new spin on moments involving stars like Sergio Ramos, Ronaldo, Neymar, Lionel Messi and Alphonso Davies. Released initially on social media, they are designed to drive subscriptions and tune-in for Canadian viewers, much as DAZN did with programming produced by LeBron James and Sylvester Stallone ahead of high-profile boxing matches.
The initiative also has an inside industry twist, given that Nash and Holden were both calling games for Turner, which used to have U.S. streaming rights to the Champions League. CBS All Access took over those rights this year in a surprise grab.
DAZN, whose operations are led by former ESPN president John Skipper, has scooped up a range of key rights in various global territories. Nearly two years after launching in the U.S., it remains best known for boxing, but it is well-capitalized and growing, though COVID-19 has made the entire sports world move sideways for a few months. In Canada, DAZN has exclusive rights to an NFL package of comparable to the Sunday Ticket and Red Zone offerings in the U.S. It also has exclusive rights to the Premier League.
“It has been an incredible opportunity producing and participating in these Champions League recreations with my good friend Stu Holden,” Nash said. “To get to partner with DAZN to promote coverage in Canada is a dream come true.”
The spots had an intentionally spontaneous framework, with Nash and Holden discovering bags on the beach dropped for them by producers and the network. Inside the bags were iPads with instructions about how and where the duo was required to recreate the key moments on the field. The incongruity of making a beach or a pool the “pitch” is part of the point.