By Sheila Dang
(Reuters) - Streaming service DAZN Group has told sports leagues it will not pay rights fees for any suspended or cancelled games amid the coronavirus pandemic, according to a source familiar with the matter.
The streaming service is the first media company operating in the United States that has decided to withhold fees, which are paid to sports leagues for the right to air events, as broadcast networks have traditionally continued to pay the fees when games have not aired. The move was first reported earlier on Tuesday by Sports Business Journal.
DAZN will also not pay for future seasons until the company is given an update on when those seasons will begin, the source said.
DAZN did not want to continue paying the fees because it has no clarity on when sports seasons will resume, and is focused on defraying costs, the source added.
The streaming service, launched in 2016, is available in nine countries including the United States and Canada. It streams boxing and mixed martial arts (MMA) in the United States and holds streaming rights for the National Football League and Major League Baseball in Japan.
The spread of the coronavirus has upended sports across the world, including causing the Tokyo Summer Olympics to be postponed for one year.
MLB said earlier this month it will push back the opening of its 2020 regular season, but did not say when it expected to begin the season. The National Basketball Association earlier this month also suspended its current season.
The NFL, which begins its regular season in September, has not announced a delay due to the coronavirus.
(Reporting by Sheila Dang in New York; Editing by Matthew Lewis)