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Tuesday, April 16, 2024
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Netflix Eyes Move Into Live Sports Content

  • Effort marks strategic shift by dominant industry player
  • Tournament would feature celebrities from "Drive to Survive" and "Full Swing"
Allan Henry-USA TODAY Sports

One of the biggest players in streaming video could finally be shifting toward live sports content.

Netflix — which has forged a prominent position in documentary-style sports content with series such as “Drive to Survive” and “Full Swing” but has not acquired live sports rights  — is nearing a deal to live stream a celebrity golf tournament this fall with both golfers and Formula 1 drivers, according to the Wall Street Journal.

The event would be held in Las Vegas and feature celebrities from both docuseries. Talks regarding the project are described as preliminary. But even this more controlled effort would mark a strategic shift for Netflix, which ended 2023’s first quarter with 232.5 million subscribers and holds sizable sway over the entire business of streaming.

The tournament is seen in part as a trial balloon for the company without incurring the heavy cost and multiyear commitment of top-tier live sports rights. Prior Netflix bidding efforts for live rights to sports properties such as F1 ultimately lost to more aggressive competitors.

“We’re not anti-sports, we’re pro-profit,” said Ted Sarandos, Netflix’s co-CEO, at an investor conference late last year.

The tournament also marks a further opportunity for Netflix to build an advertising business that remains in its infancy, and represents another piece of fresh content for the streamer while the Writers Guild of America remains on strike from the Alliance of Motion Picture and Television Producers.

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