Will Netflix offer live sports?

TV Answer Man, do you think Netflix will ever offer live sports? Amazon does. Peacock does. AppleTV+. Hulo too. I could go on. It seems like it would be a real winner for Netflix if they had live sports too. Do you think that could happen? — Manny, Orlando.

Manny, as you note, several Netflix streaming rivals offer live sports. For example, Peacock and Apple TV+ recently captured exclusive rights to dozens of MLB games while Amazon Prime broadcasts National Football League games live on Thursday nights during the regular season and 21 New York Yankees exclusively in the New York market. The games are free for Prime subscribers, which adds extra value to the retailer’s purchase subscription.

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Netflix, however, has always said it has no live sports plans, a position it has held for years.

“To follow a competitor, never, never, never,” Netflix co-CEO Reed Hastings said in 2018. “We have so many things we want to do in our region, so we’re not trying to copy others, whether it’s linear cable. , there’s a lot we don’t do. We don’t do news (live), we don’t do sports (live). But what we do , we try to do it really well.

Last week, company executives were again questioned about live sports after Netflix posted a net loss of 200,000 subscribers in the first quarter. But Netflix’s other co-CEO, Ted Sarandos, once again bemoaned the possibility that the streamer is trying to use live sports to generate new subscribers.

“I’m not saying we would never play sports, but we should find a way to develop a big revenue stream and a big profit stream,” he told financial analysts after the first report was released. trimester.

Why does Netflix have a problem with live sports when others don’t? Two reasons, according to this journalist.

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1. Money
TV networks and online services like Amazon and Apple pay millions (and sometimes billions) of dollars for broadcast rights to professional and college games. While Netflix spends billions of dollars on programming each year, even this well-heeled company doesn’t want to engage in a financial arms race for live sports.

2. Technology
You may not remember some of the technical issues that Netflix had in the early days of online video, but it wasn’t always pretty. The term “buffering” has become a household word largely for Netflix.

But Netflix has made great improvements over the years in providing a reliable stream for non-live programming. While it’s not perfect, the vast majority of Netflix shows and movies stream flawlessly, even in a home with below-average internet speeds.

Netflix understands, however, that live streaming can be a bag of evil, to paraphrase what Steve Jobs once said about Blu-ray discs. The back-end technology behind live streaming is more complex and less reliable than non-live streaming.

Netflix, which has been remarkably prescient when it comes to video trends, might be wise to steer clear of the live streaming business. However, if subscriptions continue to fall, the financial community could pressure the company to reconsider with some analysts. already call Netflix start investing in live sports.

Manny, I hope that makes sense. Happy viewing and stay safe!

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—Philippe Swann
@tvanswerman

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