Netflix in Talks to Stream NFL Christmas Games: A Game-Changer for Sports Broadcasting?

Netflix in Talks to Stream NFL Christmas Games: A Game-Changer for Sports Broadcasting?

Rams running back Malcolm Brown get a big gain against the Broncos in the fourth quarter at SoFi Stadium in Inglewood on Sunday, Dec. 25, 2022. (Luis Sinco/Los Angeles Times)

Christmas could be coming early for Netflix.

The NFL is considering a bid from the streaming behemoth for two football games to be played on Dec. 25, which falls on a Wednesday this year. The games would be the first major professional league sports events carried by the streaming giant.

An NFL representative had no comment. But one person familiar with the discussions said the league is still weighing the offer.

One consideration is whether having the games on the streamer instead of broadcast TV will limit exposure to fans.

Netflix has around 83 million subscribers in the U.S. and Canada. The number of subscribers using the lower-priced ad-supported tier that carries commercials is a small fraction of that total.

One reason Netflix would want the NFL is that it can help build its advertising business. Netflix has a presentation for advertisers scheduled in New York next week.

The NFL’s current TV partners, who are paying a total of $11 billion in annual rights fees, were asked to bid on the games, according to two people familiar with the talks who were not authorized to comment.

Read more: Amazon’s Prime Video and Netflix are crashing TV’s ad-selling party

The fact that the NFL could extract two games from the existing NFL packages — and ask its media partners to pay for them again because they will run on a holiday outside of the usual windows of Thursday, Sunday and Monday night — demonstrates the league’s clout. The ratings for NFL games tower over everything else in television.

Puck was the first to report that Netflix was included in the process.

Christmas Day has long been the sports domain of the NBA, which has a slate of games running on ABC. But the NFL was pleased enough with the ratings performance of its Christmas Day games in recent years and is making them a part of its schedule for the 2024-25 season.

Over time, Netflix has increasingly invested in sports-related content.

Earlier this year, Netflix said it would become the home for WWE Raw starting in January 2025 and announced it would host live boxing matches, including one with YouTuber and professional boxer Jake Paul and Mike Tyson in July. Other live sports events streamed on Netflix include a tennis exhibition match and a golf tournament.

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“We believe that these kind of eventized cultural moments, like the Jake Paul and Mike Tyson Fight, are just that kind of television that we want to be part of winning over those moments with our members as well,” said Ted Sarandos, Netflix co-chief executive, in an earnings presentation last month.

Greg Peters, co-CEO of Netflix, said these types of cultural events are also relevant to advertisers it seeks to court.

“So it’s an opportunity for us to expand our advertising offering and give those brands access to these kind of culture-defining moments,” Peters said in an earnings presentation in April.

In addition to hosting live events, Netflix has also developed a following for its sports documentaries.

Sarandos said in an earnings presentation that the company’s North Star is “to grow engagement, revenue and profit.”

“So when and if those opportunities arrive that we can come in and do that, which we feel like we did in our deal with WWE, if we can repeat those dynamics in other things, including sports, we’ll look at it for sure,” Sarandos said.

“Raw” is the top show on the USA Network, where it brings in 17.5 million unique viewers over the course of the year, WWE and Netflix said.

The deal is for an initial 10 years for an aggregate rights fee of more than $5 billion, with an option for Netflix to extend the agreement, according to a filing by TKO, the holding company of WWE, with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission.

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This story originally appeared in Los Angeles Times.

2024-05-11 00:34:00
#Netflix #running #NFL #Christmas #games

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