Netflix: Seeking A New Live Sports Pitch?

A recent report says Netflix is considering bidding for an NBA documentary-series package around a small package of live NBA games, according to the Sports Business Journal. 

The effort would be built around future iterations of NBA's new ‘In-Season Tournament” -- a new NBA event that is running this month, concurrently with the existing regular NBA season, which itself has just started up last month. The month-long ‘In-Season Tournament’ event ends with one team winning the first NBA Trophy ever.

Key for Netflix is that the docu-series will be paired around the live NBA games. 

Netflix has had major success with this type of documentary series, the most prominent being “Formula 1: Drive to Survive” currently on the air.



Partly connected to this series, Netflix ran a golf tournament in Las Vegas -- “The Netflix Cup” -- in a special team event featuring golf pros paired with Formula 1 race car drivers. This comes as Formula 1 has scheduled its first Las Vegas Grand Prix race for November 18.

For several years now, Netflix has also done documentary series on other sports including tennis and professional road cycling. The most recent  “Tour de France: Unchained” follows Team Jumbo-Visma, which has won the high-profile three-week-long July bike race for the last two years with Tour champion Jonas Vingegaard.

It seems Netflix has been testing the water to find more interest in deep storylines/engagement -- something its loyal viewers are familiar with.  

Netflix internal server data must be showing these sport-documentaries have staying power. These docu-series can also be cost-effective compared to scripted fiction entertainment TV. 

Netflix is seemingly trying to find some interesting formula that will give loyal sports TV viewers a different perspective they would not get otherwise.  

This would be taking a cue from ESPN's docu-series “30 for 30”.

Most importantly, from another audience direction, Netflix seemingly is looking to pull in non-sports viewers -- giving those viewers a bridge to traditional live sports content with drama-tinged real-life non-scripted content. 

For years, sports franchises like the NFL, NBA, Major League Baseball, and NHL have been looking to expand their audience -- efforts to get young viewers and/or more female viewers. Advertisers/brands wouldn't mind getting more reach with these audiences amid overall higher  viewer live programming.

Recently, the NFL was all too happy to see wildly popular singer/performer Taylor Swift attend Kansas City Chiefs games to watch her close friend Travis Kelce in action. TV networks showed off he impact on young and female viewers, during these telecasts, however small those actual increases were.

Maybe Netflix has also been looking at this for impetus. Is Netflix live content/docu-series approach the best way to game plan its move into live sports?

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