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May 15, 2024

Netflix (NFLX) has won the streaming rights to two National Football League (NFL) games set to air Christmas Day, the company announced in a post on X Wednesday morning.

It’s a surprising development given the streaming giant has previously said it wanted to avoid investing in live sports content.

The doubleheader matchups will be announced once the NFL releases its full schedule Wednesday evening. The company will reportedly pay less than $150 million per game, according to Bloomberg.

In addition to this year’s games, the company also revealed it will be streaming at least one holiday game per year as part of a three-season deal.

“Last year, we decided to take a big bet on live — tapping into massive fandoms across comedy, reality TV, sports, and more,” Netflix Chief Content Officer, Bela Bajaria said in a news release. “There are no live annual events, sports or otherwise, that compare with the audiences NFL football attracts. We’re so excited that the NFL’s Christmas Day games will be only on Netflix.”

Netflix had previously maintained that it wants to focus on “sports entertainment” instead of paying for the rights to live sports, which can be expensive for media companies. In the past, the company has released docuseries and sports-adjacent content like “The Quarterback,” “Formula 1: Drive to Survive,” “Full Swing,” and “Break Point,” in addition to live sporting events like the “Netflix Cup” celebrity golf tournament, which aired late last year.

One recently announced partnership seemed to deviate from that status quo. In January, Netflix announced a 10-year deal with TKO Group Holding’s WWE (TKO) that will bring WWE’s flagship program Raw, a live wrestling production, to the streaming service beginning in 2025.

But at the time, Netflix co-CEO Ted Sarandos said the inclusion of the program did not signal a change in its overall sports strategy, describing the deal as “unique” compared to the global sports rights of professional leagues like the NBA or UFC.

Wall Street analysts and industry watchers have long predicted Netflix will eventually be forced to go all-in on sports, describing live sports as the last frontier of streaming amid a deteriorating cable bundle.

Read more here.

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