Like other streamers, Netflix seems eager to get into live sports. But it isn’t quite ready to start paying the massive rights fees that such activity usually requires.
So, the streaming giant intends to launch a “Netflix Cup,” a golf tournament that will pit race-car drivers from its popular Formula 1 documentary series “Drive to Survive” against golfers from a similar effort called “Full Swing.” Both sides will tee up in a match play tournament at Wynn Golf Club on the Las Vegas Strip. The event is slated to get underway on Tuesday, Nov. 14.
If the concept sounds familiar, well, that’s because it is. Warner Bros. Discovery has gained some traction with its own series of “The Match” celebrity golf events that often tap NFL players and top golfers and are usually broadcast on cable networks like TNT. The endeavor lets Warner, which has a sports-rights portfolio built around the NBA, Major League Baseball, the NHL and the NCAA men’s basketball tournament, expand its offerings without having to pay massive rights fees to another league.
“We love to see how our sports series have brought increased fandom to sports leagues and competitions all over the world,” said Gabe Spitzer, vice president of nonfiction sports at Netflix, in a statement. “The Netflix Cup will take that energy to the next level with global stars from two popular hits competing in our first-ever live sports event.”
Netflix has been testing a number of live-streamed concepts, including a March stand-up special from comedian Chris Rock. Netflix also launched a live streaming event for the “Love Is Blind” Season 4 reunion, but it was a disaster due to technical difficulties, and wasn’t available to stream until the following day.
The Netflix Cup, which is sanctioned by the PGA Tour and Formula 1, will be produced by Excel Sports Management, BZ Entertainment, and Full Day Productions, a production outlet backed by former ESPN executive Connor Schell and longtime producer David Chamberlin.
The event will have the added benefit of promoting both the sports and Netflix’ documentary series about them. Netflix has in recent years launched series such as “Formula 1: Drive to Survive,” “Full Swing,” “Untold” and “Quarterback.” New series planned will try to follow athletes in track and field, soccer, rugby and NASCAR.