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Netflix novelty golf and F1 mashup would be an apt entry into live sports

Netflix is planning to join Apple and Amazon on the live streaming sports bandwagon according to a new report from the Wall Street Journal.

However, the streaming pioneer isn’t planning to bid for the rights to top events like Premier League football, Major League Baseball or Major League Soccer, as Amazon and Apple have acquired respectively.

The WSJ report said Netflix plans to host the tournament in Las Vegas this autumn, bringing together the stars from the Formula 1: Drive to Survive and Full Swing reality series.

Wow. The least charismatic sports people in the history of the entire world taking part in a golf tournament. Pass. Hard pass.

This would be right in line with what we’ve come to expect from Netflix’s irreverent programming line-up, which has started to shift towards reality TV, rather than high-profile prestige drama.

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However, it does make sense for Netflix to leverage licensing deals and relationships, rather than going after some of the sporting world’s Crown Jewels, as many of its streaming rivals have. Yes, this would be live sports by definition, but hardly the kind of content that would encourage new subscribers into the fold en masse as Amazon achieved with its exclusive Premier League games.

While that might be enticing to fans of those existing reality TV shows, it’s unlikely to make headlines in the sporting world. Judging by the report, it’d be a one-time special event and is unlikely to have much appeal beyond the gimmicky celebrity Pro-Am novelty tournaments we see all the time.

However, it’s very Netflix. This wouldn’t require a long commitment over a number of years – like Apple’s ten-year arrangement with Major League Soccer – and it wouldn’t ‘t require hundreds of millions in investment like Amazon’s deal with the EPL.

Indeed, it feels just as disposable as much of the Netflix output these days, which has made it difficult to fully invest in shows due to the slew of cancellations that often come out of the blue, regardless of a show’s large following.

Netflix has never aired live sports, although the company has changed tack on a number of its tenets in the last few years. In an effort maintain and attract new subscribers in an increasingly competitive streaming environment, the company has gone back on several founding principles. That includes backtracking on advertisements and its attitude towards password sharing.

Netflix has begun to explore live streamed events and its first ever was a stand-up comedy event starring Chris Rock that aired earlier this year, but sports would be a step farther and present different production challenges.

“I’m not saying we never would do sports, but we would have to see a path to growing a big revenue stream and a big profit stream with it,” Netflix co-CEO Ted Sarandos said last year.

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