Does Netflix Really Need the NFL?

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Sports rights are tough because there are only so many sports that command valuable audience attention, and those deals come around once every decade: That’s why you’re seeing these highly tactical moves. Photo: Richard Rodriguez/Getty Images

A decade after I first started writing about the promise of tech companies like Facebook and Twitter getting involved in sports, some digital platforms have become legitimate players. Amazon, of course, has taken the biggest step into the arena, with multibillion-dollar deals for Thursday Night Football and, potentially, the NBA too. Now we’re seeing Netflix (WWE, the NFL Christmas games), Google/YouTube (Sunday Ticket), and Apple (MLS, some MLB) making significant investments into sports rights, too. 

Leagues are overjoyed at the idea of adding new, deep-pocketed bidders to the mix. After all, more bidders generally equals higher prices. But of course, big questions remain, which is why I decided to phone up my colleague Juila Alexander, one of the foremost experts on the streaming landscape, to dig into all of this and more.