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Netflix reportedly planning its first live sports broadcast

Netflix is planning its first sports-based live stream, according to a Wall Street Journal report on Monday.

The streaming giant is in talks to create a celebrity golf tournament featuring professional golfers and Formula 1 drivers, according to people claiming to have knowledge of the matter.

Talks are said to be in the early stages, but if the idea materializes, the event could take place in Las Vegas this fall.

Sources told the Journal that the tournament would probably involve celebrities from Netflix shows such as Drive to Survive, a docuseries focusing on Formula 1 motor racing, and Full Swing, which offers behind-the-scenes coverage of the PGA Tour.

While Netflix’s initial offering may generate limited interest among sports fans, it could pave the way for additional deals involving more prominent sports events that could in turn encourage fresh sign-ups to the streaming service. However, a serious push into live sports would mean securing expensive broadcasting rights that would involve Netflix diverting money away from other content that it produces.

Speaking in December 2022, Netflix co-CEO Ted Sarandos appeared to dismiss the idea of getting into live sports broadcasts, saying: “We’ve not seen a profit path to renting big sports … We’re not anti-sports, we’re just pro-profit … [Netflix] can get twice as big without sports.” While that feels pretty much like a rejection of live sports, the Journal’s report on Monday suggests otherwise. It’s also worth recalling how the company once dismissed the idea of launching an ad tier before changing its mind.

Rival streaming service Amazon Prime Video introduced live sports in 2017, streaming portions of the NFL’s Thursday Night Football games during the 2017 NFL season in a deal worth $50 million. Apple TV+, too, has added live professional sports content to its offerings, acquiring the rights to show major league soccer.

Netflix has already dabbled in live broadcasts, starting with a Chris Rock comedy special in March. Its second attempt at streaming a live event, however, ended in disaster in April when technical glitches ruined a Love is Blind special. Netflix ended up sharing a recording of the show.

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Trevor Mogg
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