Start of F1 season delayed by coronavirus for second year in a row

Netflix may acquire Formula 1 streaming rights, according to its CEO

Sky's the limit

NETFLIX’s boss has said that the streaming service “would definitely consider” bidding on the rights to show Formula 1 races in the future.

Speaking to German news website Der Spiegel, Reed Hastings said: “A few years back, the Formula 1 rights were sold. At that time, we were not among the bidders, but today we would definitely consider that.”

Netflix has had some success in recent years with F1-based shows including the newly released documentary Schumacher, as well as the series Drive to Survive, which has proven popular with three seasons already released and the next currently in the works.

Schumacher Netflix documentary review

Nevertheless, whereas rival service Amazon Prime Video has taken to showing live sports such as tennis, a pivot to live broadcasting would be a major change for Netflix.

“At Netflix, we do entertainment and not journalism,” Hastings said. “That would have to be up to certain standards. We keep our hands off live sports. With that kind of broadcast, we have no control over the source. We have no control over the Bundesliga [German football league]. They can make deals with whoever they want. But this kind of control would be a prerequisite for us to be able to offer our customers a secure deal.”

Whilst that perhaps rules out Netflix acquiring football streaming rights, that may not extend to Formula 1.

Amazon recently struck a four-year deal with the Women’s Tennis Association for the exclusive streaming rights to matches, joining its coverage of the US Open tennis event and National Football League (NFL) games in the USA.

Due to the complex nature of broadcasting contracts, it’s possible that Netflix may not be able to acquire global rights and could have to negotiate on a region-by-region basis.

Sky Sports currently holds the F1 TV rights in the UK, with filming and broadcasting of highlights shows by Channel 4 (it only bought the rights to show the British GP live), an arrangement expected to continue until 2024. Sports channel ESPN holds the rights in the US until the end of the 2022 season, a deal it hopes to renew.

Lewis Hamilton equals Michael Schumacher’s seven F1 world championships

Drive To Survive, Netflix’s F1 documentary series, has garnered considerable acclaim, underscoring both the streaming service’s involvement with the sport and F1’s ability to draw in viewers for the platform. The series chronicles individual seasons of Formula 1 racing through the eyes of the drivers and teams, making the sport more accessible and, reportedly, bringing in large numbers of new fans to F1.

Season 4, scheduled for release in early 2022, will look back at the ongoing 2021 F1 season, including the heated, occasionally bitter rivalry between Mercedes’ Lewis Hamilton and Red Bull’s Max Verstappen as they both vie for the world championship, which would be historic in either case. Man of the moment Verstappen is looking to pick up what many believe will be his first of many while Hamilton would clinch his eighth — a new record, overtaking Michael Schumacher’s seven drivers world titles.