Netflix is tapping into the popularity of two of its existing properties for its first live sports broadcast.
The streaming service announced Tuesday that it would broadcast the “Netflix Cup” golf tournament on Nov. 14. The eight-hole tournament will feature four PGA Tour pros and four Formula 1 golfers competing against each other.
Rickie Fowler, Max Homa, Collin Morikawa and Justin Thomas will represent the PGA Tour and each will be paired with a Formula 1 driver. Williams’ Alex Albon, Alpine’s Pierre Gasly, McLaren’s Lando Norris and Ferrari’s Carlos Sainz are the four F1 drivers participating.
The top two PGA/F1 teams at the end of the eight-hole tournament will advance to a winner-take-all ninth hole at the Wynn Golf Club in Las Vegas. The tournament begins at 8 p.m. ET and is being held days before the inaugural Formula 1 Las Vegas Grand Prix on Nov. 18.
All eight participants have been key participants in their sports’ Netflix docuseries. “Drive to Survive” is widely credited with boosting United States interest in Formula 1, especially as viewers searched for sports content during the COVID-19 pandemic. After the success of “Drive to Survive,” the streaming platform launched “Full Swing” in February to chronicle the lives of PGA Tour players.
“We love to see how our sports series have brought increased fandom to sports leagues and competitions all over the world,” Netflix vice president Gabe Spitzer said in a statement. “The Netflix Cup will take that energy to the next level with global starts from two popular hits competing in our first-ever live sports event.”
It’s easy to see how the golf tournament could set the stage for a future foray into live sports rights for Netflix. The streaming company has been mentioned as a potential player for live sports rights in recent months but has so far stayed out of the bidding process. In July, Netflix co-CEO Ted Sarandos said on an earnings call the company thinks “that we can have a really strong offering for sports fans on Netflix without having to be part of the difficulty of the economic model of live sports licensing.”
Could that change in the future? We wouldn’t completely rule it out given the uncertainty of many major teams’ local television deals and the ever-changing media consumption habits of younger Americans.