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Report: Netflix Bidding on Formula 1 Rights; Would Be First Sports Rights for Streamer

Stephen Silver

Netflix, for all of the pioneering it did in the streaming space, has never streamed live sports, nor has it streamed any live programming at all. But according to a new report, that may soon change.

Business Insider reported on Monday that the streamer is among the bidders for the U.S. rights of Formula 1 Racing, the international auto racing circuit that of late has become very popular stateside.

Sources told Insider that Netflix is “chasing” those rights, which puts the streaming service in competition with Disney-owned ESPN and Comcast-owned NBCUniversal; Amazon is also “in the mix.” ESPN is the current rights-holder in the U.S. for F1, which is likely to fetch more money than it did in previous negotiations. The racing circuit, per the report, is targeting $100 million for the rights.

Netflix already streams “Drive to Survive,” a docuseries about Formula 1, which has been credited with raising the circuit’s popularity in the United States. But Netflix does not hold the rights to the circuit itself.

Formula 1: La emoción de un Grand Prix

2019 M03 8

Serie documental sobre el mundo de la Fórmula 1 de los productores de Senna y Amy. Se centrará en la vida personal de los corredores, sus familias, amigos y el mundo que hay detrás de las carreras.

Another source told Insider that Netflix, unlike its competitors, “doesn’t have an in-house sports negotiator.”

Netflix co-CEO Reed Hastings did say in an interview last year that while the company has avoided sports streaming rights, it would consider jumping in if they could “control the source.” He also said that Netflix would consider a Formula 1 bid.

“A few years ago, the rights to Formula 1 were sold. At that time we were not among the bidders, today we would think about it,” the executive told Der Spiegel.

Some reporting last month had indicated that Netflix was looking at adding live-streaming features, in order to show live broadcasts of such programming as stand-up comedy concerts and reality show reunions. Deadline reported, however, that Netflix’s live-streaming plans remained in their early stages.

The new Formula 1 package, whoever ends up winning the bidding, would begin in 2023.

Netflix executives have said various times over the years that they were not interested in bidding for live sports. But like a lot of things with Netflix, that appears to have changed, following the company’s announcement that it lost subscribers in the first quarter.

The company had long resisted cracking down on password-sharing, as well as any notions of including advertising in their product. But Netflix has reversed itself on both of those, as a result of those struggles.

Several of Netflix’s streaming competitors, including Apple TV+, Peacock, and Paramount+, have offered live streaming, especially an increased attention to live sports as the streaming wars have heated up.

Netflix

Netflix is a subscription video streaming service that includes on-demand access to 3,000+ movies, 2,000+ TV Shows, and Netflix Originals like Stranger Things, Squid Game, The Crown, Tiger King, and Bridgerton. They are constantly adding new shows and movies. Some of their Academy Award-winning exclusives include Roma, Marriage Story, Mank, and Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom.

Netflix offers four plans — on 1 device in SD with their “Basic with Ads” (US$ 6.99) plan, on 1 device in SD with their “Basic” (US$ 9.99) plan, on 2 devices in HD with their “Standard” (US$ 15.49) plan, and 4 devices in up to 4K on their “Premium” (US$ 19.99) plan.

Netflix spends more money on content than any other streaming service meaning that you get more value for the monthly fee.

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