TV Answer Man, will Netflix ever offer live sports like other streamers? They have money and subscribers so why not give sports fans what they want? Ball games!! — Todd, Wichita Falls, Texas. 

Todd, as you note, several Netflix streaming rivals offer live sports. For instance, Apple TV+ carries some MLB games exclusively as does YouTube. Apple TV+ also will carry Major League Soccer games next year while Peacock has plenty of NBC-produced sports. And let’s not forget Amazon, the exclusive home of the NFL’s Thursday Night Football games.

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Netflix, however, has consistently said it has no plans for live sports, a position it has held for years.

“To follow a competitor, never, never, never,” Netflix co-CEO Reed Hastings said in 2018. “We have so much we want to do in our area, so we’re not trying to copy others, whether that’s linear cable, there’s lots of things we don’t do. We don’t do (live) news, we don’t do (live) sports. But what we do do, we try to do really well.”

Why does Netflix have a problem with live sports when others don’t?

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TV networks and online services such as Amazon and Apple pay hundreds of millions (and sometimes billions) of dollars for the rights to air professional and college games. While Netflix annually spends several billion dollars on programming, even this well-heeled company doesn’t want to get into a financial arms race for live sports. Since the company already has more than 223 million subscribers worldwide, more than anyone else, it really doesn’t need sports that badly.

Netflix may also be leery of engaging in live sports technology which can be expensive and sometimes prone to buffering and other technical issues.

But Netflix does understand that people love sports, and consequently, the company has invested heavily in sports documentary programming which ranks with the best in the industry. For instance, Netflix’s Untold series, which has chronicled various sports scandals such as a referee possibly fixing NBA games and a college football star getting involved with an imaginary girlfriend, is riveting viewing. The streamer’s original docs on convicted murderer (and former New England Patriots tight end) Aaron Hernandez, and a high school cheerleading squad (Cheer) are also very good.

You can learn more about Netflix’s sports documentaries here.

Todd, hope that makes sense. Happy viewing and stay safe!

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— Phillip Swann