Netflix Makes Another Move Into Sports

By Tony Owusu

Netflix  (NFLX Get Netflix, Inc. Report has previously shied away from sports content -- specifically live sports -- at a time when most other content services have leaned in, but that could be changing as the company starts producing more sports documentaries. 

Netflix and Box to Box Films, the production company behind "Formula 1: Drive to Survive," and Vox Media Studios are working on a program that will be a behind-the-scenes look at the PGA Tour and feature a number of high profile golfers. 

"This documentary will give fans an authentic look into the real lives of our athletes, and what it's like to win — and lose — during a season on the PGA Tour," said Rick Anderson, chief media officer of the PGA Tour.

Filming for the series is already underway and will continue throughout the 2022 PGA Tour season. 

Amazon and Hulu Have Live Sports

While the legacy broadcasters like NBC  (CMCSA Get Comcast Corporation Class A Report, FOX, ABC/ESPN, and CBS  (VIAB Get Viacom Inc. Class B Report battle for live sports, next-generation streamers like Amazon Prime and Hulu have also become players in the genre. 

Amazon (AMZN Get Amazon.com, Inc. Report Prime currently broadcasts NFL Thursday Night Football, WNBA games, and certain Yankees games in the New York market. Walt Disney's (DIS Get Walt Disney Company Report Hulu also has live sports options on its premium service. 

Live sports are some of the only traditional broadcast programs that still command large audiences and the advertising dollars that come with it. 

However, since Netflix doesn't rely on advertising dollars, its revenue comes from its 214 million paid subscribers, the company has not jumped into live sports. 

Sports Programming and the Streaming Wars

Producing sports documentaries and other programming tied to sports seems to be a way for Netflix to get its foot further into a door of a room where its competitors are already operating. 

ESPN's award-winning 30 for 30 series has been the gold standard for sports documentaries for years. 

As mentioned, Amazon Prime Video has live sports programming and some sports-based documentaries.

HBO, which was an early investor in Bill Simmons' The Ringer brand (which is now owned by Spotify (SPOT Get Spotify Technology SA Report, is also in the sports documentary with its Hard Knocks series, which is a behind-the-scenes look at a different NFL team every season. 

Hard Knocks seems to be most similar to what Netflix is aiming for with its new PGA Tour program based on the program's description. 

Netflix has also produced award-winning sports documentaries (Icarus won an Academy Award for Best Documentary in 2018) and its "Last Chance U" series is expected to debut its sixth season soon. 


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