Netflix’s first live-streamed sporting event could happen this fall. The Wall Street Journal reports that the company is in talks to create a new celebrity-driven golf tournament in Las Vegas that would feature some of the stars of other sports content on the service, such as Drive to survive And Full swing. (Disclosure: Vox Media Studios produced Full swingAnd The edge recently produced a series with Netflix.)
The talks are apparently early, but a bespoke, talent-driven golf tournament makes perfect sense as Netflix’s first foray into sports streaming. Streaming live sports is tough, difficult and expensive, and the deals on big-name events are getting cutthroat. (Netflix reportedly tried to get Formula 1 coverage away from ESPN, but failed.) There’s a reason ESPN’s first-ever broadcast of a slow-pitch softball game, and that Yahoo broadcast a London NFL game in the wee hours of the American morning before trying something a little more complicated. And even those more conservative attempts don’t always go well.
Netflix’s own live streaming reputation isn’t exactly great either. In April it is Love is blind live reunion show was such a spectacular failure that the service canceled the live aspect of the show altogether. However, it managed to stream a Chris Rock comedy special without any hiccups.
Netflix has been interested in live content since at least 2022 and has indicated an interest in sports for years, but has always said it is looking for the right time to get into the game. So far, the company has invested heavily in documentaries, with great success: many people credit Drive to survive single-handedly making Formula 1 popular in the United States, and Full swing And Breakpoint have also been hits for golf and tennis. The company is even signed on to make an NFL version called Quarterbackwhich is expected to be released this summer.
A one-off golf tournament can be a test case for Netflix – or a signal of strategy
A one-off golf tournament could be a test case for Netflix to prove to leagues and advertisers that it can handle more complex events. It could also be a signal of strategy: The company has shown it can use documentaries and behind-the-scenes content to get people to enjoy sports they previously knew nothing about, so maybe Netflix’s sports strategy will be more underwater hockey than NHL hockey and more toe wrestling than WWE. They would give Netflix enough content to stream, and a lot of good intellectual property to transfer shows over. Don’t be surprised to see what Netflix’s sports network looks like Drive to survivebut for every sport you can think of.