San Francisco 49ers’s Christian McCaffrey in a January 2024 playoff game. The NFL could be coming to Netflix over Christmas, according to one report.

Netflix is reportedly nearing a deal to stream two NFL games on Christmas Day.That’s a big pivot for a company that always said it didn’t want to have sports on the service.But the change makes sense: The reason to show sports is to sell ads. Netflix didn’t use to be in the ad business — but now it is.

Netflix spent years telling everyone it had no interest in streaming sports.

But that was then. Now Netflix looks like it is close to a deal to stream two NFL games on Christmas Day, reports Puck’s John Ourand, citing “a bevy of sources.”

If that happens, it will mean the streamer would have exclusive access to the biggest sport in America, on a day when many Americans are dying to watch sports.

That’s quite a move from a company that used to patiently explain, over and over, why having live sports didn’t make any sense for them.

Ourand has plenty of caveats in his report about the deal not being done, along with more significant to-be-sures: “Netflix has a lot more questions than answers right now about its Christmas plan, from who will produce the games to how much it will pay.”

Does that mean Netflix doesn’t know how much it will pay for the games? Or that Ourand doesn’t know how much Netflix will pay? Those are two very different ideas. Still, Ourand is a well-sourced, longtime sports rights pro, so his story is definitely worth taking seriously.

I took a quick spin through media sources Friday morning, and couldn’t confirm the story myself, though some industry folks said they’d heard similar. The NFL declined to comment; Netflix didn’t respond to a request for comment.

If the deal does happen, it will be easy to step back and see how Netflix got there.

In an earlier version of Netflix, the company’s argument was that live sports didn’t make much sense for Netflix, since Netflix was an on-demand service that didn’t have ads, and the main reason networks paid huge premiums for live sports programming was that it was the one way to gather big TV audiences — where you could show them ads.

Then Netflix started to morph. First it found success showing sports-adjacent content, like the F1 “Drive to Survive” reality series. Much more important was a major pivot in 2022, when the company said it would start offering an ad-supported version of the service. At the same time, it started experimenting with live, one-off programming, like comedy specials and made-up sports tournaments; that same year, it had begun quietly bidding on actual sports events.

And earlier this year, Netflix got really, really close to actual sports programming by making a $5 billion deal to show pro wrestling worldwide. All of which makes a big deal, actual sports package now seem inevitable, instead of out of character.

Is this one actually going to happen? We may only have to wait a few days to find out. The NFL now plans on releasing details about its upcoming schedule on May 15 — which also happens to be the day Netflix will host its “upfront” event in New York, catered to advertisers. Maybe that’s a coincidence. Maybe it’s not, at all.

Read the original article on Business Insider

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