By Phillip Swann
The TV Answer Man –@tvanswerman
TV Answer Man, I hear that Netflix is going to do a live golf tournament. Do you think that it will start going after live sports with all that money it makes? Could it be a player for the Pac 12? How about the NBA? — Steve, Portland, Oregon.
Steve, Netflix co-CEO Ted Sarandos confirmed on Wednesday that Netflix will live stream a celebrity golf match in November that would feature professional golfers from Netflix’s Full Swing documentary and drivers from its Formula 1 racing series, Drive to Survive.
Netflix is facing increasing competition in the streaming category from rivals that do have live sports such as Peacock, Paramount+, ESPN+ and Max. Exclusive live sports would be another way for Netflix to distinguish itself in the market.
But don’t count on Netflix to start making bids for the rights to expensive sports packages such as the NBA and the Pac 12. In his remarks following the company’s second quarter report, Sarandos made it crystal clear that Netflix does not see that as a wise course.
“We really think that we can have a really strong offering for sports fans on Netflix without having to be part of the difficulty of the economic model of live sports licensing,” the Netflix executive said.
Sure, Netflix makes a lot of money, but it made it by being smart about how to invest it over the years. The company has repeatedly shied away from the live sports arms race, choosing instead to focus on programming that has a longer shelf life.
That doesn’t mean that Netflix doesn’t understand the power of sports. The streamer has produced some of the best sports documentaries of the last several years, such as its 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. 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.
Sarandos says Netflix’s mission to “to introduce a brand-new audience to a sport that has been around for a long time. And you do that through exceptional storytelling, not through the liveness of the game.”
Steve, hope that helps. Happy viewing and stay safe!
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— Phillip Swann