Netflix Intros Live Sports, Title Sponsorships, Binge Ad Format

Netflix is adding live sports (of a sort), title sponsorships, and a new binge ad format as lures to boost its new ad-supported tier.

The moves were announced by Netflix VP of Global Advertising Sales Peter Naylor in a keynote at Advertising Week in New York.

A “Netflix Cup” golf match between PGA and F1 pros who are also “stars” of the streamer’s Netflix’s documentary series “Formula 1:Drive to Survive” and “Full Swing” (image from video teaser above) is set to take place at the Wynn Golf Club in Las Vegas on Nov. 14, and will serve as a tie-in with the Formula 1 Las Vegas Grand Prix, which starts Nov. 16.



Sponsored by T-Mobile and Nespresso, among other brands, it seems designed in no small part to promote the existing sports documentary shows and interest potential advertisers in others previously announced as being in the funnel — including ones on NASCAR, the U.S. Women’s National soccer team, and the world’s top sprinters.

Although it does not appear that the streamer has reversed its publicly declared stance that it will not offer sports packages in its plans, Naylor did indicate plans for more live sports events, by noting that Netflix will continue to offer integrated sponsorships rather than sell traditional ads in the programming.    

Outside of sports, the new title sponsorships will allow brands to be the premier sponsors for a show or one of its seasons. Frito Lay’s Smartfood will jump in first, as the title sponsor for the new season of “Love Is Blind.” (The same series whose technically disastrous livestreamed reunion show was a global embarrassment for Netflix back in April.)

“We know that brands want to align with specific shows that are contextually and culturally relevant to their marketing objectives,” Naylor said.

The binge ad format — its working moniker — will allow viewers who’ve watched multiple episodes in a row to watch another episode ad-free, through a brand’s sponsorship, once they’ve sat through a “heroic, epic, 30- to 60-second spot” from the sponsoring brand, explained Naylor.

“At a time when more than 80% of our ad-supported members watch for two hours or more, this product will reward viewers and allow your brands to stand out,” he said.

The binge/sponsored ad-free episode format is hardly new. Hulu introduced the concept during its NewFront in 2019 — when Naylor was its ad sales chief.  

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