Netflix CEO hints streaming giant could bid for F1 rights after Drive to Survive

Netflix CEO Reed Hastings had dropped a huge hint that the streaming service could bid for live F1 rights in the future following the success of its fly-on-the-wall Drive to Survive documentary series.

Drive to Survive, which first premiered in March 2019, offers a behind the scenes look at Formula One, with exclusive interviews and never before seen footage of the drivers and world championship battle.

The show has developed a huge following on social media and helped grow F1's global fan base at a time when sports are competing with each other for the limelight.

It has been a great success, both for Netflix and F1, prompting Hastings to consider whether the streaming giant could be tempted to go one step further and bid for live rights when they next come up for tender.

"A few years ago the rights to Formula 1 were sold. At that time we were not among the bidders," Hastings revealed in conversation with German magazine Der Spiegel.

"Today we would think about it."

However, that is not a guarantee that F1 will be joining the streaming giant anytime soon.

"At Netflix, we do entertainment and not journalism," Hastings added.

"That would have to be up to certain standards. We keep our hands off live sports.

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"With that kind of broadcast, we have no control over the source. We have no control over the Bundesliga.

"They can make deals with whoever they want."

For the time being it seems Netflix is content to watch on as live F1 stays behind a satellite subscription service.

Despite being linked with Premier League rights in the past, the streaming service doesn't own the rights to any live sporting events, but has developed a niche for sports documentaries.

Drive to Survive, Last Chance U, The Last Dance and most recently Schumacher have all received widespread praise on social media.

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The firm is understood to be open to to exploring the possibility of live streaming, according to Ted Sarandos, the company's Co-Chief Executive Officer and Chief Content Officer.

"Our success with the sports-adjacent properties, like the F1 Drive to Survive, Deaf U and certainly the Michael Jordan doc, those are all examples, I think, of the platform and what it can do to build enthusiasm on what is already viewed to be an enormous business," Sarandos explained in July.

"Drive To Survive expanded the audience for Formula 1 racing pretty dramatically, both in live ticket sales and TV ratings and merchandise sales, all those things. And I think that that can be applied as long as the storytelling is great.

"So what’s good about this for us is that we could apply those same kinds of creative excellence to the storytelling behind those sports, the personalities behind those sports, the drama that happens off camera.

Later on, Sarandos continued: "And just to be clear, I’ve reiterated this a lot, but I’m not saying we’ll never say never on sports. It’s just what is the best use of about $10 billion. And I think that’s what it’s going to cost to invest meaningfully in big league sports."

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