Netflix may have started out as a service to send DVDs to subscribers in the mail, but streaming those movies and TV shows is what really put the company on the map. Today, they are a household name, providing licensed content and even original series, such as the new Blockbuster series about its former rival. But, as subscriber growth wanes and competition increases, the company is always looking for ways to cut costs and increase subscription numbers. The newest idea is to wade into the murky waters of live-streamed sporting events.
Netflix and Live Sports
The company doesn't really have any current relationship with the sports industry at all. Sure, there are some documentaries about athletes, but those tend to be about athletes who killed someone, were killed by someone, or did something else dangerous or bizarre. Little to no content on the service is based around sports in any way.
Similarly, the company has no real experience in live events. In fact, the culture of the company's subscriber base has generally been an expectation that all episodes of a season are made available at once, so even the mode traditional weekly releases that services like Disney and Hulu seem to get away with, Netflix can not. Weekly, topical programs have even been trouble for the platform.
Where do they start?
With all of this said, how might Netflix get into making live sporting events available to its subscriber base? It appears that the company hopes to start out with tennis. In fact, they have put in bids to carry events already, such as the ATP tennis tour in Europe. They also considered bids for the Women's Tennis Association broadcasts for the UK, but ultimately didn't make the move. If tennis doesn't work out for them, they have also considered making bids for cycling events.
This is a far less dangerous way to enter the industry than some of its competitors. Comcast jumped right in with full live streaming of nearly all Olympic events via NBC and Peacock. CBS went big with the Super Bowl on CBS All Access (now Paramount+). Amazon took on Thursday Night Football, marking one of the biggest streamed events to not go offline.
Compared to those streams, tennis and cycling seems tame. However, this is new territory for Netflix, where it wasn't completely new for the others. Peacock streams live content all day every day, as does CBS and Paramount+. Amazon has offered live events in the past, though nothing quite to the scale of Thursday Night Football. Netflix would be getting into a new business model, so starting out small might make the most sense.
Why add sports?
Simply put, everyone else has it. Amazon, Disney+, Hulu, Peacock, Paramount+ - all of them offer some sort of sports package, either directly or indirectly. Netflix now stands nearly alone in not offering sports content at all. By adding live sports, the company is clearly hoping to help stem the tide on their subscriber loss without having to ramp up into new big productions.