Netflix reportedly considering F1 rights for US

Formula 1: Drive to Survive

Netflix is reportedly eyeing its first sports rights grab in the US with Formula One.

The streamer to date has historically said that it had no interest in entering into sports broadcasting, but a recent downturn in fortunes has led the company to re-evaluate its previous approach to business.

Now Business Insider is reporting that the streamer could rival ESPN for the US broadcasting rights to F1, with the Disney-owned sportscaster having held the rights since 2017. As per Sport Business Journal, ESPN has already submitted an opening offer of US$70 million to renew, but the F1 is said to value its US broadcast rights at over US$100 million.

ESPN, while not stating that it has submitted a bid, confirmed talks with F1, withJohn Suchenski, director, programming and acquisitions stating: “We are aggressively pursuing a renewal – we feel that we have a distribution package and event presentation that can’t be matched in the industry and the viewership and exposure growth they have received since returning to ESPN platforms in 2018 is reflective of what we can do for them. It has been a mutually beneficial relationship.”

A tie up between Netflix and the F1 may make more commercial sense for both parties however. The racing competition has seen its US profile significantly enhanced thanks to the success of Formula 1: Drive To Survive, the docuseries that has proved a hit for Netflix. 

Such a deal would kick in from the end of the existing rights period in 2023, and could serve as a value-add for Netflix which is set to introduce an advertising-supported tier before the end of the year.

Should it move for the F1 rights, Netflix would be the latest major streaming service to look at sports as a means of enticing subscribers in an increasingly congested market. The 2022 MLB season saw both Apple TV+ and NBCU’s Peacock join the fray, while HBO Max and Paramount+ have also acquired sports streaming rights in recent months.

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