Netflix explores live sports rights, according to reports

Reed Hastings

Faced with increased competition from heavyweight rivals, SVOD platform Netflix has pivoted in a number of ways over the last year – most notably in its decision to embracing advertising. Now, reports the Wall Street Journal, the company is opening up to the idea of acquiring live sports rights – if the price is right. In a report picked up by various media outlets, the WSJ cited people “familiar with the discussions”.

The news that Netflix is looking at sport is not completely new. In 2021, the company’s co-CEO Reed Hasting expressed an interested in acquiring F1 rights. More recently, the company has been looking at tennis as a potential entry point – a move which would echo the way that Amazon established its foothold in the genre.

Netflix is unusual among streamers in having no live sport. Disney+, Warner Bros Discovery, Paramount+, Amazon Prime, Viaplay and Comcast’s various PayTV and streaming outlets all control robust portfolios of rights. Apple has also emerged as a key player – acquiring both Major League Baseball and Major League Soccer rights.

If Netflix does enter the sports markets, it is unlikely to go toe to toe with its big tech rivals for the world’s biggest properties – since Hastings is wary about overspending. More likely will be an experimental move to test sport’s ability to acquire and retain customers. Such a move would probably make sense given the rising cost of scripted content production and Netflix’s new ability to run dual revenue streams. The cost of making a blockbuster movie like The Gray Man, for example, is not dissimilar to what Apple has paid for a year’s worth of MLS rights on a global basis. Aside from tennis and motorsports, cycling has been touted as a potential entry point.

Tags: Netflix

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