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Sports Could Play Hero Role For Media Companies During Hollywood Strikes

  • As programming gets delayed, sports could become more important in the media landscape.
  • Netflix has been ramping up its sports offerings despite having no live rights.
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Jay Biggerstaff / Bill Streicher-USA TODAY Sports

Sports may play a starring role as savior for America’s top media companies during the Hollywood writers’ and actors’ strikes.

Programming from seemingly every major network and streamer will be delayed due to the strikes, whether it’s Disney’s “Star Wars” projects, the final season of Netflix’s hit series “Stranger Things,” HBO’s “The Last of Us,” or even some late-night shows. 

It would appear that one of the only types of content spared involves sports — live or otherwise.

“It really does highlight the importance of sports,” former Netflix and Hulu executive Simon Gallagher said on CNBC, noting games and docuseries are “protected” from strikes.

Gallagher, now a principal at SPG Global, is particularly impressed with Netflix’s sports offerings — the streamer’s stock is up more than 50% this year — and believes Apple is primed for success with the arrival of Lionel Messi in MLS.

Fresh from success with its Formula 1, golf, and tennis content, Netflix just released its new NFL series — aptly titled “Quarterback” — and won a $50 million bid to produce a 10-part piece on Dallas Cowboys owner Jerry Jones. HBO is following the New York Jets for this season of “Hard Knocks.”

Disney continues to buy live rights for ESPN+ (and Hulu) and fill the service with content from the likes of Peyton Manning’s Omaha Productions, and this season, NBC’s Peacock service will exclusively air an NFL playoff game behind its paywall.

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