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Ted Sarandos: Netflix Not Interested in ‘Renting’ Sports

Ted Sarandos: Netflix Not Interested in ‘Renting’ Sports

With streaming services Paramount+, Peacock, Apple TV+ and Prime Video investing heavily in live sports rights, speculation that the market’s biggest player — Netflix — might reverse its opinion on the genre (as it did on advertising) continues.

Speaking on the UBS Global TMT confab in New York, Ted Sarandos, co-CEO/chief content officer, was asked whether Netflix has changed its view on sports.

Ted Sarandos

“Look, we’ve not seen a profit path to renting big sports today,” Sarandos said, adding that the streamer keeps the door open on future possibilities.

Indeed, Netflix has had much success with its original reality show, “Formula 1: Drive to Survive,” which has contributed to a significant increase in U.S. consumer awareness and appreciation of the European-based auto racing circuit.

“If we could figure out a path that renting big-league sports would be neutral to slightly — even slightly more, but it’s dramatically more expensive, I think, in terms of watching,” Sarandos said. “It’s very popular. I definitely agree. We are not anti-sports just pro-profit.”

The executive contends Netflix can double its global subscriber base without live sports programming. Sarandos believes that if Netflix can figure out how to monetize sports through scale, it would revisit the idea.

“Maybe by that time, maybe the economics change,” he said, adding that owning a sports franchise like F1 is a different question.

“Look at the impact Netflix has had on Formula 1,” Sarandos said. “So that should be able to translate, but in this case, if you create the value, it just transfers into higher prices for licensing down the road.”

Sarandos cited the popularity of Netflix’s original South Korean show “Squid Game,” which he said didn’t have to premiere after the Super Bowl to attract hundreds of millions of viewers.

“We didn’t need a big loss leader [sports] to build a big audience,” he said. “And if we can keep doing that, maybe that is our structural advantage to linear television.”

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