Potential: Could A Netflix Experiment Live Stream Sport?
In a potentially groundbreaking move, Netflix is reportedly considering livestreaming a celebrity golf tournament that would bring together professional golfers and Formula 1 drivers. If realized, this would mark the streaming giant’s first venture into live sports. The Wall Street Journal revealed that the event, likely to premiere in the fall and set in Las Vegas, is still in the preliminary discussion phase.
The celebrity golf tournament aims to unite stars from Netflix’s popular docuseries “Formula 1: Drive to Survive” and “Full Swing,” where professional golfers and drivers would showcase their skills on the golf course.
Netflix has recently been testing the waters with live events, including stand-up specials and a “Love is Blind” reunion. While encountering some initial challenges, the streaming service remains committed to expanding into live sports.
Netflix appears to be cautiously approaching live sports, opting to experiment with a celebrity sporting event to gauge viewership and identify any potential issues before committing to larger sports partnerships. The tournament would feature celebrities from two Netflix shows, “Formula 1: Drive to Survive” and “Full Swing,” with the former proving to be a hit and helping revitalize interest in the sport among fans. The fifth season of the F1 series experienced a 40% increase in viewership compared to the previous season.
Rumors circulated last year about Netflix vying with ESPN and NBCUniversal for streaming rights to Formula 1 in the United States, but ESPN ultimately secured the rights through the 2025 season. Additionally, Netflix reportedly explored bidding for media rights to tennis and cycling events.
The streaming giant has been cautious about entering the live sports arena, with co-CEO Ted Sarandos stating during an earnings call in 2022 that they would only consider livestreaming sporting events if it presented a clear path to significant revenue and profit.
The celebrity golf tournament would serve as a one-time special event, allowing Netflix to test the format and assess the viability of investing in live sports. Sports packages are notoriously expensive, costing media companies billions of dollars.
This endeavor would also provide Netflix an opportunity to refine its livestreaming technology, following technical issues that caused a 75-minute delay during the live reunion special of “Love is Blind” Season 4.
While still in the early stages of venturing into live events, Netflix’s successful livestreaming of the Chris Rock comedy special demonstrates its potential in this arena. Additionally, the company is set to broadcast the Screen Actors Guild Awards live in 2024, further expanding its live event portfolio.