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Years into its existence, Netflix is the kind of company that presents a “do no wrong” image, with very few missteps balancing the overwhelming success. A lot of that has to do with the company’s wise decision-making skills about what it does and doesn’t put its money behind, and many have wondered if or when Netflix would offer up live sporting events as part of its programming. And it looks like we’re still a ways away from seeing it happen, but it’s still hovering above the horizon like the most epic hail mary.
The conversation about sports on Netflix has been ongoing for quite a while, though the streaming service is arguably more popular now than it’s ever been, and a shift towards the ratings monsters that are sporting events seems almost inevitable. But according to Netflix’s chief content officer Ted Sarandos, they’re still not seeing a major upside just yet. Here’s how he put it in a recent conference, according to Business Insider.
I will never say never, but I would say that where we sit today I don’t think the on-demandness to sports is enough of an addition to the value proposition to change. I think the leagues have tremendous leverage in those deals, so it’s not like we’re going to get in and de-leverage the leagues… Not to say that it wouldn’t someday down the road someday make sense.
From a consumer point of view, it may seem like hosting live sports would be a successful move, but not everyone is aware of the complex and extremely pricy deals that accompany the NFL, NCAA, NBA and other organizations. It’s not really feasible to consider Netflix partnering with any leagues to air entire seasons of any sport, and it’s even less feasible to think they’d drop exorbitant amounts of dough to air limited-run championship games like the Super Bowl or the World Series. The positives wouldn’t appear to outweigh the negatives, at least financially.
Considering the draw of sporting events is the live factor, Netflix doesn’t really have much to compare that with, as all of its programming (from show revivals to stand-up specials) can be viewed at any time without much degradation to one’s enjoyment. Sure, some people like to binge Daredevil and House of Cards immediately, but so long as you save yourself from spoilers, they bring the same amount of joy and drama a year later as they do when released. The same can’t be said of a Monday Night Football game or something like that, especially if you’re a fan.
So while we might not be able to watch any football or basketball on Netflix anytime soon – with the possible exception of exhibition games – we might one day see Netflix test the waters by jumping in the ring for pay-per-view events like UFC and boxing matches, or perhaps a Wimbledon, before branching out.