Is Live Sports finally coming to Netflix?

On Saturday night, Netflix streamed its first-ever live event, which ended up being a mediocre Chris Rock stand-up performance. Much of the attention has since focused on the last few minutes, when Rock predictably discussed the infamous Will Smith Oscar night sleeper. (Rock pointed out that the whole fiasco started when Smith’s wife, Jada Pinkett, said Rock shouldn’t have hosted the 2016 awards because Will was snubbed for his acting in the film. Concussion. Then, Rock said, Smith gave him a concussion last year.) But the comedy show could have heralded a new era of Netflix, one with more live-streamed events — something its closest competitors have already seen a lot of, especially in the sports category.

Amazon has been streaming NFL games for six football seasons now. Hulu has an ESPN+ extension with live streaming games. Apple TV just launched its MLS Season Pass add-on with live streaming football. Paramount+ just enjoyed its most-streamed live sporting event ever, the 2023 AFC Championship Game between the NFL’s Kansas City Chiefs and the Cincinnati Bengals.

But while Netflix has seemingly put more dollars into sports content with a nice return on investment – Drive to survivethe streamer’s Formula 1 racing series and accompanying golf show Full swing are just two recent hits – the company’s long-term status as a premier entertainment platform may depend on partnerships with professional sports leagues. However, his leaders don’t seem to think so.

“While Netflix continually refuses to take the plunge, with the company’s cameras tracking so much action, it still needs live sports — they just won’t air them right now,” Doug Greenberg wrote in Front Office Sports over the weekend. . “The Silicon Valley-based company has barely entertained the idea — even as its competitors, like Amazon, dive headlong into live sports rights.”

Year after year, live sporting events completely dominate linear TV ratings, keeping the old way of watching television on life support. In 2020, Axios reported that major US cable and satellite TV have lost 25 million subscribers since 2012 and are expected to lose another 25 million by 2025. remaining programs that advertisers can rely on to attract massive viewers,” Sara Fischer also wrote in Axios last year.

So why not help Netflix, the streaming innovator that has revolutionized the way we consume screen entertainment, help bury linear TV and get an even bigger slice of the sports revenue pie by broadcasting live events in the category?

Netflix didn’t want to talk to Front Office Sports about this, but the publication pointed out that Netflix co-CEO Ted Sarandos said in December that the company “has not seen a profit in major sports rentals.” He added: “We’re not against sports… We’re just pro-profit.”

Consumers may not view Netflix as much of a sports-focused brand, despite the relative success of some of its sports documentary series. As Front Office Sports noted, Netflix’s tennis series, Point breakproduced by Box to Box Films, the same company behind it Drive to survive And Full swing, didn’t perform very well (maybe because it was boring). And available Netflix data going back to June 2021 indicates that “no sports movie or series ranks among the streamer’s most popular, defined as hours watched in the first 28 days of the project.”

One thing the most-watched Netflix sports series have in common is drama and human moments, Front Office Sports also noted. There are intimate interviews and scenes with athletes that make viewers feel like they are getting to know them on another level. That’s a part of sports entertainment that viewers, especially young people, crave and are used to in a post-social media world where high-profile personalities regularly engage with fans and post (curated) scenes from their personal lives.

Maybe instead of live sports from Netflix, we can just look forward to more hilarious memes to come from the documentary series. Gary Payton beware.

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