According to people familiar with what happened at last week’s annual owners’ meetings, the NFL is in negotiations with media businesses about selling shares in NFL Films, The Athletic reported this week. Netflix was apparently the most noteworthy corporation cited.
While Netflix has not indicated that it will offer live sports in the near future, it has dabbled with sports documentaries and reality shows. This includes films like “The Last Dance,” “Formula 1: Drive to Survive,” and the PGA Tour’s impending reality show.
“Think about NFL Films… it’s a big library with a lot of documentary capability… “You could see ‘Hard Knocks’ and all of those things being marketed on a Netflix service in the same way that Formula One or PGA is,” a team official who was in the room for the proposal told The Athletic. A request for comment from the NFL was not returned. Aside from The Athletic’s allegation, there’s no proof that such negotiations were taking place. However, it is an intriguing concept to explore.
There are no live games or a lot of sports programming on Netflix right now. Such a move would give the streaming service a place in the streaming world’s sports arena.
According to The Athletic, the NFL has also met with Amazon, Apple, ESPN, Paramount, Peacock, Roku, Fubu, and DAZN about the NFL Media process, all of which were represented on slide presentations at the meeting. Live sports and the perks that come with them are familiar to all of these media firms.
A portion of NFL Films might be sold separately from its long-marketed minority investment in NFL Media as a consequence of the process. In addition, the NFL is rumoured to be looking for a content distribution partner.
There’s also the question of whether the Sunday Ticket out-of-market games package will include an ownership investment in NFL Media or NFL Films. Apple is now the leader for both the NFL Media and Sunday Ticket stakes. However, because Amazon owns Thursday Night Football, there’s a good chance it’ll be considered.
The decision is still a ways off because DirecTV’s Sunday Tickets arrangement has another season still to run, and the equity element has no set time frame.
The NFL is notorious for driving a hard financial bargain, and its partners have become accustomed to paying a premium for doing business with Big Shield. Last year, ESPN (ABC, ESPN+), Fox (Tubi), CBS (Paramount+), NBC (Peacock), and Amazon Prime Video (NFL Network) each spent more than $2 billion for NFL broadcasting rights. The National Football League, and sports leagues in general, are a need for networks since they are a driver of advertising and marketing, not to mention one of the main reasons why, aside from news, people still watch television.
While that may work with broadcasters, the NFL will have to work a little harder with streaming services.
Netflix may not have a problem with the high price tag because it spent $17 billion on content last year, but the service compensated by raising its fees. The firm increased the ordinary plan to $15.49 per month (up from $13.99), the basic plan to $9.99 per month (up from $8.99), and the 4K tier to $19.99 per month (up from $17.99). Will Netflix users be able to afford the additional NFL content?
NFL Films, situated in Mount Laurel, New Jersey, was started in 1962 by Ed Sabol as Blair Motion Pictures. Sabol was famous for winning the rights to shoot the 1962 NFL championship game, and Commissioner Pete Rozelle was so delighted that he bought the firm a year later. Steve Sabol, his son, ran the business until his death 10 years ago.