Netflix Considers Buying the Rights to Stream F1 Live Races, Is The Next Logical Step

Drive to Survive 6 photos
Photo: Netflix
Netflix and Formula 1's Docuseries Drive to SurviveNetflix and Formula 1's Docuseries Drive to SurviveNetflix and Formula 1's Docuseries Drive to SurviveNetflix and Formula 1's Docuseries Drive to SurviveNetflix and Formula 1's Docuseries Drive to Survive
Netflix and Formula 1 have had a successful partnership so far, and the streaming service is considering acquiring the rights for live races.
Not everyone remembers how Netflix used to send customers DVDs of their movie choices back in the day. But, over the years, it became a household name for the entire world (and an Internet slang for "Netflix and chill"), being available in over 190 countries.

Starting with owning film rights for movies and TV series for a period of time, over the years Netflix has also become a serious production company, whose titles even won Academy Awards. Now they can rival productions with big studios behind them, offering top quality and quantity.

While there was a time when it had a monopoly over the online catalog for movies and TV shows, the recent years drove other companies to create their own streaming platforms, like HBO Max (in association with Warner Bros), Prime Video, Disney+ or Apple TV+.

With Prime offering several deals to exclusively live stream football and tennis, documentaries or replays of old NFL or MLB games, it showed that it can attract its customers for more than its catalog of movies and series. So Netflix might step it up and try to drive up viewers using Formula 1.

Netflix and Formula 1's Docuseries Drive to Survive
Photo: Netflix
Since 2019, Netflix has gotten people interested in Formula 1 with their docuseries, Drive to Survive, which has outperformed expectations with the first three seasons, and has already been renewed for a fourth. In case you're not up to date with it, the series follows teams at races throughout the season, and tells the story in a compelling, documentary-style format. A few days ago, the company also premiered their Schumacher documentary, so it would make a progressive step in the right direction.

The company’s chief executive Reed Hastings reportedly told German outlet Der Spiegel (via Autosport): “With sports broadcasts we have no control over the source. We don't own the Bundesliga, which can make deals with whomever it wants. But this kind of control would be a prerequisite for us to be able to offer our customers a secure deal."

The CEO suggested that, should the rights be available, they would be interested in buying F1 rights though. “A few years ago, the [commercial] rights to Formula 1 were sold. At that time we were not among the bidders, today we would think about it.” But, without the rights, Hastings seems cautious about changing the streaming service's tactics.

Netflix and Formula 1's Docuseries Drive to Survive
Photo: Netflix
There is a lot of interest in it, because, just in the U.S., there are almost twice as many people routinely watching Formula 1 in 2021 than in 2018, when ESPN acquired the rights to live races. But, at least for the U.S., ESPN’s current deal is due to expire after the 2022 season, which might give Netflix a way in. And if F1 owner Liberty Media isn't interested in automatically extending their contract, it could be up for grabs in a bidding war. It would make a logical step for Netflix to step in and buy them, especially with their docuseries currently thriving.

Of course, it would totally change how we view broadcast media at the moment, and it will probably create more space for other streaming services to think about adding live television to their services.

But it would not be a move that would surprise many. Given the interest in the races, Netflix might only have to gain if they also add live streaming alongside entertainment.
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About the author: Monica Coman
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Imagine a Wenn diagram for cars and celebrities. At the intersection you'll find Monica, putting her passion for these fields and English-Spanish double major to work. She's been doing for the past seven years, most recently at autoevolution.
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