Netflix has expanded its content strategy to just about every possible sector of entertainment. From television and films to documentaries and an expanding library of stand-up comedy, Netflix is just about everywhere.
Except, notably, the world of live sports.
That’s becoming an exception among the biggest streaming companies. Amazon Prime offers various live sports, including the streaming rights to Thursday Night Football. Facebook and Twitter aren’t generally directly competitive with Netflix and Prime, but both companies have rights to different sporting events and are pursuing more. Hulu and YouTube, meanwhile, are in the space via their own OTT streaming offerings, which give subscribers access to live sports via traditional broadcasters.
But not Netflix. And according to Netflix VP of business development Maria Ferreras, that’s not likely to change.
However, speaking at the international broadcasting convention in Amsterdam, Ferreras said that the company is more focused on developing partnerships, such as its new tie-up with Sky, which sees Netflix made accessible to Sky subscribers in the UK, Ireland, Germany, Austria and Italy.
“We’re committed to partnerships,” said Ferreras. “We want to keep exploring partnerships because we believe they bring growth, they foster dynamism, and also they provide a great consumer experience.
“We’re taking them to the next level, both in terms of number, in terms of countries where we’re going to be doing this, and also in terms of how deep we want to go into these partnerships. We are now ready to go deeper and really explore the three parts in a much bigger way.”
It’s not that they don’t see the value of sports; one of their most successful original series is the small college football documentary Last Chance U. Instead, Netflix’s reasoning is simple: they don’t see how they can offer much improvement over the current broadcasting models.
Ferreras, however, said that Netflix has no plans to rival Amazon for live rights. She said that Netflix has looked to explore sport through its documentary programming, where it is capable of adding value to the viewer experience, but added that the same would not be true for live sports coverage.
“I think in terms of live sports there’s nothing we can do differently from a television broadcaster, so it doesn’t add additional value,” she said. “You can never say never, but there’s no plans to go into that.”
While that might make sense from a Netflix perspective, it does perhaps limit Netflix’s ability to be a one-stop option for home entertainment. And there’s also the looming launch of new competitors; Disney’s own streaming service, for example, stands to cost Netflix some of their content library. It’s possible that the value equation changes for Netflix going forward.
But there’s probably also value in waiting and learning from the mistakes of their competitors. It’s clearly a developing market, and a lot of things can change in a short amount of time.