“Never say never.”
That was the response Ted Sarandos, Netflix’s content boss, gave to the question about whether the world’s largest subscription streaming service will ever stream live sports.
It’s a question that Netflix executives have had to answer many times before, and they have repeatedly said that sports, which are, of course, best viewed live, don’t fit with Netflix’s watch-anytime model.
Sarandos, Netflix’s chief content officer, emphasised that point again on Wednesday at a conference hosted by MoffettNathanson, a media and telecommunications research firm.
But he also didn’t completely rule out the proposition.
“I will never say never, but I would say that where we sit today I don’t think the on-demandness to sports is enough of an addition to the value proposition to change,” Sarandos said, according to a webcast of the event. “I think the leagues have tremendous leverage in those deals, so it’s not like we’re going to get in and de-leverage the leagues.”
Sarandos said the prospect of paying huge sums for rights to live sports programming, which can be very, very expensive, “doesn’t get [him] that excited.”
“Not to say that it wouldn’t someday down the road someday make sense,” Sarandos continued. “Today I think that there’s lots of growth in what we’re doing.”
TV ratings are down, Americans arewatching less TV, and some cable and satellite subscribersare “cutting the cord,”choosing instead to get their video entertainment from streaming services like Netflix, Dish’s Sling TV, HBO Now, and Hulu, among others.
But live sports are one of the few things people still can’t miss on so-called “linear” TV — the Super Bowl and NCAA football championship game broke viewership records, while March Madness had its highest TV viewership in 22 years.
People can also pay sports leagues directly to stream games. Major League Baseball has for years streamed baseball games through MLB.TV, and NBA fans can also sign up for a streaming service from the NBA.
The NFL is also planning to stream a Buffalo Bills and Jacksonville Jaguars game on YouTube this fall.