Netflix is reportedly in talks to livestream a celebrity golf tournament slated to take place this fall in Las Vegas, which would be the streamer’s first foray into live sports.
The tournament will include celebrities from the Netflix Formula One series “Drive to Survive” and golfing documentary “Full Swing.” Sources told The Wall Street Journal that the talks are in the preliminary stages, and a spokesperson for Netflix declined to comment.
The potential move into live sports comes after Netflix co-CEO Ted Sarandos told a UBS investor conference in December that the company had “not seen a profit path” to “renting big sports.” At the time, Sarandos said that the economics surrounding live sports are “built around the economics of pay television” and “dramatically more expensive” on streaming.
“We’re not anti-sports, we’re pro profits. And we’ve not been able to figure out how to deliver profits in renting big-league sports in our subscription model,” Sarandos said during Netflix’s fourth quarter earnings interview in January. “Not to say that that won’t change. We’ll be open to it, but that’s where it’s at today.”
In November, the Journal reported that Netflix explored streaming rights for the ATP tennis tour for some European countries, including France and the U.K., but ultimately dropped out. It also reportedly discussed bidding for other events, including U.K. rights to the Women’s Tennis Association and cycling competitions. Additionally, the Journal noted that the company was in talks to acquire the World Surf League in 2021, but that negotiations fell apart.
In addition to “Drive to Survive” and “Full Swing,” Netflix also produced the docuseries “Break Point” in collaboration with the Association of Tennis Professionals and Women’s Tennis Association and has greenlit two docuseries on the 2022 World Cup and Six Nations Rugby.
It has also been testing the waters of live programming with the comedy special “Chris Rock: Selective Outrage” and the “Love is Blind” Season 4 reunion and struck an agreement with the Screen Actors Guild Awards to livestream the ceremony starting in 2024.
Netflix, which has seen its shares climb approximately 46% year to date, launched an ad-supported tier in November to help bolster its subscriber growth, which has grown to nearly 5 million monthly active users globally as of May. The streamer boasts a total of 232.5 million subscribers as of the first quarter of 2023.
Other major streaming players that have dove head-first into live sports include Prime Video, which struck an 11-year, $13.2 billion agreement for Thursday Night Football, Apple TV+, which reached a seven-year, $595 million deal for Friday Night Baseball and 10-year, $2.5 billion Major League Soccer deal; and Alphabet-owned YouTube, who reached a seven-year agreement for the NFL Sunday package reportedly valued at around $2 billion annually.