As Ted Sarandos once said, Netflix isn’t “anti-sports,” it’s “for profit” — and it turns out the streamer may have found a live sporting event worth taking a swing at.
The Wall Street Journal reported Tuesday that Netflix is in talks to stream the rights to a celebrity golf tournament in Las Vegas, one that would actually feature the stars of two of Netflix’s most popular sports shows, the golf series ‘Full Swing’ and the ‘Drive to Survive’ Formula One series.”
The event would be its first foray into the live sports space, something Netflix has been talking about for over a year but have so far stayed out of, even as dollars spent on other sports rights have exploded. But while it’s unclear at this stage, this could just be a one-off event hosted by Netflix rather than the streamer buying the streaming rights to an entire league.
WSJ said talks for Netflix to acquire the rights are in an early stage. Netflix when joined by IndieWire did not comment.
While Netflix could easily be one of the deep-pocketed players for something like TV rights to the NBA, which is coming to the block very soon, Sarandos said in December they haven’t figured out a way to profit from it when it comes to “rental of big sports”. With how expensive some of those rights have gotten — whether it’s Amazon paying the NFL $1 billion a year for Thursday Night Football, Apple’s huge MLS deal, or even how much ESPN had to pay to keep the rights to Formula One – spending a ton to stream a sport you don’t actually control makes even less sense in streaming than linear TV.
“We still have to figure out how to do that,” Sarandos previously told the UBS Global TMT Conference. “I’m very confident that we can go twice as big without sports, and beyond that maybe we’ll have to figure that out, and at that point maybe the economy will change or we’ll have the scale to figure that out.”
The difference now though is that Netflix has commercials and they need live programming if they are to rapidly expand that business (and meet some of those lofty Wall Street expectations). After doing Chris Rock’s live special, Netflix hit a snag with its live stream of the “Love Is Blind” reunion show, and a celebrity golf tournament with Netflix stars seems like a low-stakes way to test further its live capabilities.