For many people looking to cut the cord and ditch cable, one of the last hurdles they can’t seem to clear is live sports. How will I watch the big game on Sunday without cable? Streaming services are now starting to catch up to this, and many are offering sports via streaming networks like ABC, CBS, NBC, and ESPN.
But what about Netflix, the biggest streaming platform in the world? When will it start streaming live sports?
Not for a long time – if ever.
Re/code has some remarks from Netflix content chief Ted Sarandos that both put the kibosh on any immediate plans but also leaves the door open … ever so slightly. Speaking to analyst Michael Nathanson at a recent conference:
Sarandos: I will never say never, but I would say that where we sit today, I don’t think the on-demand to sports is enough of an addition to the value proposition to chase. I think the leagues have tremendous leverage in those deals, so it’s not like we’re going to get in and de-leverage the leagues. We’re going to go in and overpay like everyone else does, so it doesn’t get me that excited. Not to say that it wouldn’t someday, down the road, make sense. Today, I think there’s lots of growth in what we’re doing.
Nathanson: And there’s nothing available [from the NFL] to 2022.
A lot can change between now and 2022, but for now, you’re going to have to find pro football somewhere else.
Various reports have linked the NFL and Netflix over the years. In 2013, one said the NFL was disappointed with the ratings for Thursday Night Football, housed on its own NFL Network, and was looking to sell off some more games to beef up the amount of professional football playing out on Thursday night primetime.
“Potential buyers of the games would likely be national cable sports networks. But league officials have also considered selling the Thursday night package to a nontraditional media partner, including online players like Netflix Inc. or Google Inc., the person said,” said a source to the WSJ.
The NFL League Office vehemently denied this.
The NFL has been making incremental steps toward the web in recent months. It streamed the Super Bowl and the Halftime Show earlier this year. It also partnered up with Google to bring highlights to YouTube and Google search. The league is even going to try out livestreaming this fall.
But NFL on Netflix, and in reality any sports on Netflix, is barely a dream at this point.