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Monday, May 20, 2024

Netflix Gearing Up for Formula 1 Rights Push

  • Netflix is looking to make its first foray into live sports.
  • The company is competing with ESPN, Amazon, and NBCUniversal for U.S. Formula 1 rights.
John David Mercer-USA TODAY Sports

Since its founding, Netflix has eschewed acquiring rights to live sports — until now.

The global streaming leader is reportedly among those competing for Formula 1’s U.S. broadcast rights, according to Business Insider. 

Disney-owned ESPN hopes to retain the rights, which expire this year. NBCUniversal and Amazon are also in the mix for the global racing series that has exploded in popularity, in part due to Netflix’ hit docuseries “Drive to Survive.”

  • ESPN submitted an initial bid of $70 million per year.
  • F1 parent Liberty Media is seeking a contract around $100 million annually. 

F1 has a growing presence in the U.S., with Miami joining Austin as a Grand Prix site in May and Las Vegas coming next year. Miami’s inaugural race drew 2.6 million average viewers on ABC, the highest-ever figure for a U.S. broadcast.

Netflix’ Gear Shift

Netflix, which lost subscribers for the first time in more than a decade over the first quarter, plans to introduce an ad-supported user tier next year. While the slip has caused consternation across the streaming industry, Liberty Media CEO Greg Maffei seems undeterred. 

“It is interesting how the world fragmented with cable households, and how many there are compared to Netflix households and [Amazon] Prime households,” said Maffei prior to the Miami Grand Prix. “The idea that the broadest audience is on cable — that’s becoming a lot less clear.”

Netflix had 221.6 million subscribers at the end of Q1, including 74.6 million in the U.S. and Canada.

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