What if Netflix gets live sports?

Is Netflix ready for full-contact sports? 🏈

In case you missed it, we’re on the verge of Yet Another Price Increase (or YAPI for short, like an incessantly loud and annoying dog). Hulu + Live TV’s prices are going up by $10/month. At this point, my shocked face is my normal face, but at least Hulu’s still got the best bundle on the market.

In this issue:

  • Netflix putting in bids for sports. Yes, really!

  • Why Netflix sports will be a tough sell.

  • Why you’ll probably try it anyway.

Netflix is looking to add sports to its library

Reports are in that Netflix is now putting in bids for sports. Nothing is set in stone, as the streamer may not land its bids, but reports indicate that it’s “quietly” trying to slide right onto home plate with its long-term goals of diversifying its content.

So…Netflix sports? It might sound odd, especially for a company that hastened the end of physical movie rentals. It’s also not unprecedented. Just take a look at Amazon. In 2018, the company secured the rights to 11 Thursday Night Football games. By 2021, they had secured exclusive rights to all Thursday Night Football games.

Yes, that escalated quickly. But it goes to show these on-demand streaming service providers have recognized the value in their platforms. If they have the money to front for broadcasting rights, they’ll do it. And if they have the money for exclusive rights, they’ll definitely do it.

Netflixing sports is a bit different, though

While Amazon has sports, it’s not alone. Several other on-demand streamers carry live sports, including Paramount+, Peacock, and now even Tubi TV. If anything, Netflix got caught with its cleats stuck in the mud while its competitors were slowly adding live sports streaming.

The problem with Netflix getting sports, or at least, the difference, is that Netflix has always been strictly on-demand. The company recognizes that now might be the time to change, though. Its first live stream, a Chris Rock comedy special, is gearing up for an early 2023 broadcast.

Still, nobody thinks of Netflix as a live TV provider. Even its new ad-based model, which is a bit live TV-ish, feels odd. Too much of its name and history has been made in the on-demand space. Live TV would be a total reinvention of what Netflix is. That’s no small task.

And chances are good that if Netflix starts offering live TV, it’s going to gate that content behind its highest-priced streaming package. Or even add a separate package for live TV content, which we hope and pray is not called “Netflix+”.

Let’s face it: You’ll try it at least once

Look, we’re not disparaging your choices here. But if Netflix got a live sports contract, and you’re a fan of the sport they happened to get, you’re probably going to try it, at least once. We know this because:

  • Data shows you’re probably already paying for a Netflix account

  • If Netflix locks live sports behind a paywall, it’d be a smaller cost to upgrade for you than to purchase those rights from a separate or new streaming service you don’t already have

  • Straight up curiosity, especially given Netflix is a household name worldwide

There’s also the fact that Netflix has some of the best streaming technology on the market. And while it (amusingly) uses Amazon’s AWS services to host its content, it’s created a ton of tech in-house that ensure smooth delivery of video content.

To that end, one can expect that when (if) Netflix becomes the next big sports streaming service, it’s going to get all of its ducks in a row. It may be willing to toy around with its gaming experiment, but live sports is one thing it’s going to have to get right immediately upon launch.

It’s up to the consumers

Live sports contracts are expensive, especially exclusive ones. However, Netflix certainly has the capital to hang with the big boys in the market. The question is whether anyone wants to give Netflix a chance at live sports, and just how far the company is willing to go to make it work if it does land a contract.

Just…please. Don’t call it “Netflix+”.

The Watchlist

Period piece The Wonder starring Florence Pugh brings Emily Donahue’s acclaimed novel to life on Netflix Wednesday, Nov. 16

Get your forks ready, as Martha Stewart is back, this time on the Roku Channel with Martha Cooks, streaming Wednesday, Nov. 16.

Relieve your childhood as Fraggle Rock: Back to the Rock premieres on Apple TV+ Friday, Nov. 18.

Find out which movies and tv shows are most popular on each streaming service.

History Channel dives into one of the biggest unsolved mysteries with The Bermuda Triangle, Into Cursed Waters, streaming at 10 PM EST on Tuesday, Nov. 22.

Netflix comedy horror series Wednesday puts the titular Addams Family character in focus. Streaming Wednesday (because of course), Nov. 23.

Grow Disenchanted with the fairy tale life this Thursday, November 23 on Disney+.

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