According to The Wall Street Journal, Netflix is in discussions to create its first live-streamed sporting event – a custom, talent-driven golf tournament in Las Vegas. The event would feature stars from other sports content on the service, such as Drive to Survive and Full Swing. Although talks are still in the early stages, a celebrity-driven golf tournament would make perfect sense as Netflix’s first foray into sports streaming.
Why a Golf Tournament?
Live sports streaming is a high-stakes, hard, and expensive business. The deals for big-name events are ever more cutthroat, and even conservative attempts don’t always go well. Netflix has been interested in live content since at least 2020 and has signaled its interest in sports for years, but has always said it’s looking for the right moment to get in the game.
A custom golf tournament could be a test case for Netflix to prove to leagues and advertisers that it can handle more complex events. It could also signal a strategy change. The company has used documentaries and behind-the-scenes content to make people care about sports they previously knew nothing about. Netflix’s sports strategy could be more underwater hockey than NHL hockey and more toe wrestling than WWE. This strategy would give Netflix plenty of content to stream and intellectual property to make shows about.
Netflix has invested heavily in documentaries to great success, as Drive to Survive is credited with single-handedly making Formula 1 popular in the United States, while Full Swing and Break Point have been hits for golf and tennis, respectively. The company is even set to launch an NFL version, called Quarterback, this summer.
Netflix’s own live streaming reputation isn’t exactly sterling. In April, its Love is Blind live reunion show was such a spectacular failure that the service canceled the live aspect of the show altogether. However, it did manage to stream a Chris Rock comedy special without any hiccups.
While the talks are still early, a celebrity-driven golf tournament could be the perfect opportunity for Netflix to test the waters in the live sports streaming world. It would give the company a chance to prove it can handle more complex events and potentially change its sports strategy. With the success of its sports documentaries, a golf tournament could give Netflix plenty of content to stream and intellectual property to make shows about. Don’t be surprised to see Netflix’s sports network looking like Drive to Survive, but for every sport imaginable.