By Phillip Swann
The TV Answer Man –@tvanswerman
More than 30 years of experience covering TV technology.
Netflix, which has resisted offering live sports for years, has finally succumbed by announcing it will debut the ‘Netflix Cup’ next month, a live golf tournament featuring drivers from its Formula 1: Drive to Survive and Full Swing racing and golf documentaries. The live event, which will include a match play tournament at the Wynn Golf Club at Wynn Las Vegas, will begin at 6 p.m. ET on November 14.
The tournament will include the following Formula 1 drivers: Alex Albon (Williams Racing), Pierre Gasly (BWT Alpine F1 Team), Lando Norris (McLaren Racing), and Carlos Sainz (Scuderia Ferrari). The PGA Tour golfers who will compete will include Rickie Fowler, Max Homa, Collin Morikawa and Justin Thomas.
Netflix says four pairs consisting of one Formula 1 driver and one PGA Tour professional will play an eight-hole match with the top two teams advancing to the final hole, where they will battle for the chance to win the inaugural Netflix Cup title. “We love to see how our sports series have brought increased fandom to sports leagues and competitions all over the world,” said Gabe Spitzer, vice president of nonfiction sports at Netflix. “The Netflix Cup will take that energy to the next level with global stars from two popular hits competing in our first-ever live sports event.”
While Netflix has been the leading streaming service for years, company executives have repeatedly said they are not interested in bidding for expensive TV rights contracts from professional sports leagues such as the NFL and NBA. Meanwhile, new streaming entries, such as Google, Amazon and Apple, has secured deals for such prestigious properties as the NFL’s Thursday Night Football (Amazon) games, the NFL Sunday Ticket (Google), MLB Friday night games (Apple) and the MLS Season Pass package (Apple). Netflix’s live golf tournament could be the streamer putting its toe in the water as it contemplates getting in the high-stakes TV sports competition.
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— Phillip Swann