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The growing influence on Netflix on television viewing is astounding. Yesterday we told you about how Netflix and other streaming services are causing consumers to cut the cord on their cable and satellite subscriptions in bigger numbers in 2014.

To signify how Netflix has become a force among viewers, FBR Capital Markets, a Wall Street research firm, conducted a study on the service. It found that if Netflix was a TV network, it would have an audience larger than the four major broadcasters, ABC, CBS, Fox and NBC by 2016.

Now before we go crazy on that conclusion, a reality check. First, Netflix isn’t supported by advertising and doesn’t reveal its viewing data. Comparing it to the traditional broadcast networks which have a totally different business model as opposed to Netflix is like comparing Prince’s entire music catalog to Nickelback’s. Both are in the entertainment business, but they’re as similar as Filet Mignon is to beef tongue.

Even so, FBR says the comparison holds water because it shows how popular Netflix has become over the last few years as opposed to traditional TV viewing. FBR’s conclusion is that the amount of viewing hours on the streaming service in the first quarter of 2016 would result in a rating of 2.6 which is quite comparable with ABC and NBC.

We’ve told you in 2013 and again this year that Netflix isn’t interested in bidding live sports rights, but perhaps it can be creative with sports fans by bringing them documentaries, archives of past games and other shoulder programming.

As Netflix has given the green light to plenty of original comedy and drama series, imagine producing its own line of sports documentaries? It already has the ESPN 30 for 30 library, but if it decided to invest in its own line of sports movies, Netflix could attract some new viewers.

Sports leagues have their own TV channels, but why not sell a portion of their vast game archives so fans can relive some their favorite moments? Imagine going to Netflix to watch a World Series game from the 1980’s or some of Michael Jordan’s best moments or some classic NASCAR races? It would open up additional revenue streams for the leagues as well as bring sports content to the streaming service.

So is this feasible? It certainly is, but it’s all up to Netflix’s management to decide. And while it keeps saying sports is not part of its equation in the short term, maybe it will be in the long term.


About Ken Fang

Ken has been covering the sports media in earnest at his own site, Fang's Bites since May 2007 and at Awful Announcing since March 2013.

He provides a unique perspective having been an award-winning radio news reporter in Providence and having worked in local television.

Fang celebrates the four Boston Red Sox World Championships in the 21st Century, but continues to be a long-suffering Cleveland Browns fan.

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