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Netflix and the NFL sign a three-season agreement| GuyWhoKnowsThings

Netflix is ​​no longer simply in the “sports-adjacent” business. On Wednesday, the streaming giant announced a three-season deal with the National Football League that will include airing two Christmas Day games on its service this year. It's the first time Netflix has partnered with a major sports league and it likely won't be the last.

The move follows Netflix's increasingly aggressive push into the live events business. In the last two weeks, “The Roast of Tom Brady” was the most watched English-language television program; a quirky six-day John Mulaney talk show went viral as part of the Netflix Is a Joke live comedy festival in Los Angeles; and the stand-up special “Katt Williams: Woke Foke” was viewed 4.3 million times.

“Last year, we decided to make a big bet on live streaming, tapping into massive fandoms in comedy, reality TV, sports and more,” Bela Bejaria, Netflix's chief content officer, said in a statement. “There are no annual live events, sporting or otherwise, that compare to the audiences that NFL football attracts.”

The streaming business has matured in the United States and, although Netflix is ​​the dominant service, it still needs to continue growing. With subscriptions relatively flat in the United States, growth in other revenue streams has become crucial to the company's success. Advertising is chief among them.

At a time when more people are abandoning their traditional cable subscriptions, live sports remain a draw for advertisers because they are a place where real-time audiences are guaranteed. This is especially true of the NFL, which remains a ratings juggernaut.

Last month, Netflix announced that its lower-priced subscription service, which includes ads and is about a year old, grew 65 percent in the first quarter of the year. Netflix has approximately 270 million subscribers worldwide.

“This shows how seriously Netflix is ​​taking advertising, because you don't do this unless you're fully committed to the size you think you're going to be,” said Richard Greenfield, media and technology analyst at Lightshed Partners. . “This is them putting a stake in the ground saying, 'We're here, we're going to grow much, much more in advertising and this is effectively Day 1.'”

Netflix has also committed to live sports-related programming. In January it reached a Multimillion-dollar agreement for 10 years. for the exclusive rights to broadcast World Wrestling Entertainment's flagship weekly wrestling show, “Raw.” And in March he announced that broadcast a boxing match between Mike Tyson and social media influencer Jake Paul live in July.

While the deal with the NFL is a first for Netflix, it is a continuation of the league's streaming strategy.

Amazon began streaming Thursday night games exclusively on its Prime service in 2022. In January, NBCUniversal showed an NFL playoff game. in peacock, the first time in league history it gave a streaming service exclusive rights to a playoff game. The company paid $100 million for the rights, generated 23 million viewers and called it “the most broadcast live event in American history.” (NFL playoff games traditionally draw about 30 million viewers.)

Over the past two years, the NFL has broadcast three games on Christmas, challenging the NBA's stronghold on the winter holidays. As part of this new deal, Netflix will stream at least one game during the 2025 and 2026 holidays.

Roger Goodell, the NFL commissioner, is leaning toward streaming as broadcast television continues to lose popularity.

“Our fans are on these platforms,” ​​Goodell told reporters during Super Bowl week. “Our fans want access to them. The technology is extraordinary. You can do things on some of these platforms that you can't do on the linear platform. For us it is part of the future.”

While Netflix games will be simulcast on television for free in competing teams' cities, Netflix and others will likely make a bigger investment in the NFL and other sports in the coming years. Streaming, for example, is already playing a role today. negotiations on future rights to show National Basketball Association games.

“This looks like a watershed moment for linear TV,” said analyst Greenfield. “Getting the king of premium streamers to say that we are in the real sports business is a big deal for television. Because no matter what this means now: he simply shows that you have another serious bidder for sports rights.”

Emmanuel Morgan contributed reporting from New York.

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