Netflix would be foolish not to buy live Formula 1 racing rights

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There are almost twice as many people watching Formula 1 regularly in the United States on average in 2021 than in 2018, when ESPN acquired the rights to live racing, such as The New York Times reports. The Netflix season three Drive to survive also surpassed the first in number of viewers – a very rare feat in this era of streaming platforms hitting the next big thing and making everyone tired almost immediately. But F1’s stock continues to rise, leaving a logical next step for Netflix: buying the rights to live television.

It could happen, based on comments streaming service CEO Reed Hastings made to the German publication. Der Spiegel.

The interview appears to be locked behind a pay wall, but the bottom line is that Netflix would consider streaming F1, the sport, if it were available today. As it turns out, those rights will be available soon, at least as part of U.S. ESPN’s current deal with F1 which is expected to expire at the end of the 2022 season, according to Runner. If the owner of F1 Liberty Media does not automatically seek to reconnect with the sports network, this could leave the door open for Netflix to put on a play and start a small bidding war.

Personally, I don’t care where I watch F1 – I don’t have access to live TV so I pay for F1 TV. If I were Netflix, I absolutely would. Drive to survive it’s great, and that new schumi movie seems … fine, but I wonder how many times Netflix can cash the sports doc check before it goes down in value. Also, the natural progression for aspiring F1 fans is to watch these shows and then tune in to the races.

But from the way Hastings discusses Netflix and live sports, it doesn’t seem like the broadcast rights are enough. Before telling Der Spiegel that he would be interested in negotiating the commercial rights of F1, he talks at length about how Netflix only likes to engage in content it can control, content with a known and consistent ROI. Soft and padded entertainment, not news and – God forbid – not journalism. Of Sports car:

Speaking in an exclusive interview with Der SpiegelNetflix CEO Reed Hastings said: “News is political in nature, and it varies widely from country to country.

“It is difficult to produce information as a company operating on a global scale without making enemies. It is much easier for others who only cater to a regional market. In addition, we do entertainment, not journalism, which should have certain standards and follow ethical guidelines. We also keep our hands away from live sport. “

Curling up behind the shield of “entertainment” seems like a practical way of trying to absolve yourself of “ethical standards and guidelines,” but of course, Reed, whatever you say. He keeps on:

“With sports broadcasts, we have no control over the source,” he said. “We don’t own the Bundesliga, which can make deals with whoever it wants. But this type of control would be a prerequisite for us to be able to offer our customers a secure offer.

Hastings says in effect that rather than stop at the broadcasting rights of the races, Netflix would prefer own F1, which sounds ridiculous until you think about it for 10 seconds and realize it’s entirely possible. Should Drive to survive continue to catch the eye like it did, don’t be surprised to wake up with this title in a few years. That would be a big change, as F1 has traditionally established broadcast rights by region rather than globally, but this is Netflix after all.

Also, Hastings’ comments about entertainment and how the lack of control makes live sports less desirable worries me a bit. Of course, you can’t run the race the same way you run, say, Strange things, but that’s also why people love sports. These are amazing competitive feats that happen in real life. When people say “you couldn’t write this”, it implies that if you made write it down, no one would care because it’s easy to make up bullshit.

Things carry more weight when they happen organically. And I know that comes with an inherent risk for a company like Netflix, which wants to deliver a good show in a reliable way. But if Hastings is more interested in inventing his own version of reality through the creative license of documentaries, it may be better for sports if Netflix stays out of the live aspect.


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