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Netflix’s Live Sports Vulcan Chess

netflix slam
Netflix, after all, is still in the flirtation phase of its journey toward live sports, and the streamer is working to find product-market fit. Courtesy of Netflix
Julia Alexander
March 12, 2024

Last week’s exhibition match between tennis superstars Carlos Alcaraz and Rafael Nadal, streamed live on Netflix, went off without incident. By all accounts, it was a glitzy evening in Las Vegas, with Mandalay Bay’s arena festooned in Netflix branding, a La Roche-Posay sponsor integration, and celebs like Charlize Theron and Catherine Zeta-Jones sitting courtside. I didn’t attend, but I checked Twitter from time to time to see what was going on and was met with relative silence. When I texted a few sports media executives, they were mostly indifferent, too.

The most interesting data point to emerge from the “Netflix Slam” wasn’t viewership—the event didn’t crack the streamer’s weekly Top 10, and the press release didn’t disclose any numbers—but rather the announcement, a few days later, that Netflix was canceling Break Point, its Drive to Survive-style tennis docuseries, after two seasons of poor ratings. This shouldn’t have come as a surprise, however. As I’ve reported, the supply of trendy sports docs and docuseries on streaming is outpacing demand. Drive to Survive, for example, just posted its weakest season debut yet, according to Top 10 data.