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Saturday, March 2, 2024

Netflix CEO: ‘We Are In The Sports Business’

  • Netflix will air its first live sports event on Nov. 14 — a golf tournament in Las Vegas.
  • The tech giant remains hesitant to commit to long term plans around live sports.
Allan Henry-USA TODAY Sports

Almost immediately after Netflix unveiled plans for its first-ever original live sports broadcast and production, the streaming giant threw cold water on the idea of becoming a major player in pursuing further live rights.

“We are in the sports business,” Netflix co-CEO Ted Sarandos said on the company’s third-quarter earnings call. “But we’re in the part of the sports business that we bring the most value to, which is the drama of sport.”

Netflix added 9 million subscribers in the third quarter, and will raise its premium service price from $19.99 to $22.99.

The recent Netflix Cup announcement — a live golf event on Nov. 14 featuring athletes from the PGA Tour’s “Full Swing” and Formula 1’s “Drive to Survive” — stoked interest across the industry as Netflix finally made its long-awaited entry into live sports.

For now, the company doesn’t want investors getting any big ideas. 

“No core change in our live sport strategy or licensing [of] live sports,” Sarandos said. “We are investing heavily in increasing our live capabilities so that as the demand grows for that and we find different ways, the liveness can be part of the creative storytelling, we want to be able to do that at a big scale.”

Put Up Or Shut Up

The Netflix Cup will mark a pivotal moment for the media company: Its first attempt at a live event was a disaster earlier this year when it was unable to air the Season 4 reunion of its hit dating show “Love Is Blind.” 

A second poor showing around a live event could damper investor expectations for any future endeavors in the space.

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