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Netflix NFL grab meant to appease advertisers, media strategist says

Juice Media CSO Stanlei Bellan says Netflix needs more live content to satiate big brands who crave more commercial opportunities.

Juice Media CSO Stanlei Bellan says Netflix needs more live content to satiate big brands who crave more commercial opportunities.

(Stock image via Pixabay, Graphic by The Desk)
(Stock image via Pixabay, Graphic by The Desk)

Netflix made waves last week when the National Football League (NFL) affirmed the streaming service would play host to two Christmas Day football games during the upcoming season.

The agreement is the biggest sports rights deal to date for Netflix, a service that historically shirked “appointment television” and introduced the masses to the “binge” content consumption module where streamers could watch what they want, when they want, as much as they want.

Football is in a different category, one where fans have the best experience if they watch the event live. Its status as appointment television puts football in the same group as other live sports and events, which are favored among marketers who are trying to reach the biggest audience possible at the same time.

Netflix is reportedly paying as much as $75 million per Christmas Day game this year, and has the option to take at least one additional game per season over the next two years.

The timing of Netflix’s conversion into a service that embraces live sports was not a coincidence: The service launched a cheaper, ad-supported tier in the United States more than a year ago, and has since expanded the ad-supported plan to other regions.

Almost immediately after launching the ad-supported tier, major brands flocked to Netflix with interest about purchasing commercial inventory, according to Juice Media‘s Chief Strategy Officer Stanlei Bellan, who once counted Netflix as a client.

“They’ve got more demand than they can handle, or were expecting, and that’s leading to a rush to develop as many content deals as they can,” Bellan said in a joint interview with The Desk and ad industry publication Spots n Dots.

Netflix might be spending big to get just two games this year, but Bellan said those games will super-serve the streamer’s advertising clients, who want more live events that can reach a sizable audience across platforms and at the same time.

“With these games, everyone will be watching the same thing at the same time,” Bellan affirmed, noting that “the Christmas Day games are a nice touch, because it associates the NFL and Netflix with a specific date.”

Bellan said Netflix wants to be a media brand that stands out, one that embraces the idea of going big with groundbreaking ideas and products. That has served the company well over the past two decades, first as a DVD-by-mail service, then later as a streaming-focused company, and it’s taking that same “Go Big” approach with its advertising business, too.

“The association with Christmas is big, and the audience is going to be receptive to the idea that Netflix does big things,” Bellan proclaimed.

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About the Author:

Matthew Keys

Matthew Keys is a nationally-recognized, award-winning journalist who has covered the business of media, technology, radio and television for more than 11 years. He is the publisher of The Desk and contributes to Know Techie, Digital Content Next and StreamTV Insider. He previously worked for Thomson Reuters, the Walt Disney Company, McNaughton Newspapers and Tribune Broadcasting.
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