Netflix could buy a piece of NFL Films, reports claims – TechCrunch

The NFL is in talks with media companies about selling shares in NFL Films, according to sources familiar with what transpired at last week’s annual owners meetings, The Athletic reported this week. . The most notable company that was mentioned would have been Netflix.

Although Netflix has given no indication that it will cover live sports soon, it has ventured down the road of sports documentaries and reality TV shows. This includes titles such as “The Last Dance”, “Formula 1: Drive to Survive”, as well as the upcoming PGA reality series.

“If you think of NFL Films…it’s a robust library with documentary power…You can see ‘Hard Knocks’ and all that stuff sold like Formula 1 or the PGA right on a Netflix service,” a manager said. the team that was in the presentation room, shared by The Athletic. The NFL did not respond to a request for comment. Netflix did not provide comment. There is no indication beyond The Athletic’s report that such talks took place. But it’s an interesting idea to consider.

Today, there are no live games on Netflix, nor a ton of sports content. Such a move would give the streaming service a place in the sports arena of the streaming world.

The league also reportedly spoke with Amazon, Apple, ESPN, Paramount, Peacock, Roku, Fubu and DAZN regarding the NFL Media process, all of whom were represented on slide presentations at the meeting, The Athletic said. These media companies know all about live sports and the benefits that come with it.

The process could ultimately lead to the sale of part of NFL Films separately from its long-marketed minority stake in NFL Media. Additionally, the NFL is apparently looking for a partner who can help distribute content.

There’s also the question of whether the league will include a stake in NFL Media or NFL Films in the Sunday Ticket out-of-market gaming package. Currently, Apple is considered the favorite for NFL Media’s participation, as well as Sunday Ticket. However, Amazon has Thursday Night Football, so there’s a big possibility that it will also be considered.

The decision is still a long way off since DirecTV’s deal for Sunday Tickets still has a season to go, and there is no deadline for equity.

The NFL is notorious for a tough financial negotiation and has grown accustomed to its partners paying a premium for the privilege of doing business with Big Shield. ESPN (ABC, ESPN+), Fox (Tubi), CBS (Paramount+), NBC (Peacock), and Amazon Prime Video (NFL Network) spent more than $2 billion each on broadcast rights last year for NFL packages. The National Football League, and sports leagues in general, are a necessity for the networks because it is an engine of advertising and promotion, not to mention one of the main reasons why the public always turns to television , apart from information.

While that might fly with networks, the NFL will have to try a little harder with streamers.

While Netflix has no problem with the high price tag, given that it invested $17 billion in content last year, the service has also made up for that by raising its prices. The company has increased the standard plan to $15.49/month (was previously $13.99), its basic plan to $9.99/month (was $8.99), and its 4K tier is now $19.99/month (was $17.99). Will subscribers be able to afford Netflix’s new NFL content?

A Mount Laurel, New Jersey-based company, NFL Films was founded by Ed Sabol as Blair Motion Pictures in 1962. Sabol notoriously won the rights to film the 1962 NFL Championship game and commissioner Pete Rozelle was impressed enough to buy the new production company. year later. His son, Steve Sabol, ran the business until his death ten years ago.

Together, the men of Sabol have revolutionized sports television, changing the way people view football as a sport. Cinematic slow-motion shots of players catching a soccer ball spiraling through the air, complete with dramatic narration, suspenseful music and a cheering crowd, help heighten the suspense in an already fascinating sport.

The sport as a visual and audio art form was a foreign concept before NFL Films, which won more than 100 Emmys under the Sabols, which feature in the Pro Football Hall of Fame.

NFL Films’ most popular documentary series is “Hard Knocks,” where an NFL team is shown going to training camp before the start of the next football season. Season 19 of “Hard Knocks” is set to debut in August 2022 and will feature the Detroit Lions.

While “Hard Knocks” may be produced by HBO, it’s not far to imagine Netflix having a similar NFL reality show. Granted, the service has “Last Chance U,” a slightly amateur version featuring junior college football teams following their dreams.

Netflix values ​​a content library differently than live rights, which it has no experience with. The service would pair well with NFL Films, which produces a range of sports content such as NFL-focused commercials, feature films, television programs, documentaries, as well as major events and awards shows.

Unlike other NFL-specific properties like NFL Network (whose reach is in decline) and the NFL RedZone channel – both of which need a much more strategic fit for interested media and tech companies – the production company does not necessarily need to have a partner who is interested in the league.

Netflix is ​​already moving towards a broader entertainment hub with its video game business, so adding more sports content to the mix would further add to its goal of reaching niche audiences.

Updated 4/8/22, 3:24 PM ET with Netflix declining to comment.


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