According to Netflix CEO Reed Hastings, the company has no plans to bring its customers live sporting events any time soon. But Steve Ballmer, owner of the Los Angeles Clippers and a former colleague of Hastings, is not convinced that this will remain his stance.
According to NBC News, Ballmer has an interesting theory to back up his belief.
“Reed says sports is an interesting content type: It is not replaceable. They have built their new model on non-replaceable content.”
So far, Netflix streams very on-demand content to its customers through an online platform, causing concern for other media providers in the last few years as their business has taken off around the globe. Recently, Netflix has had to adapt its business model, with more and more networks pulling their content from the platform. Instead, they will now be focusing on bringing its customers content that can’t be found anywhere else.
Prior to his job as CEO of Netflix, Hastings was the lead independent director of Microsoft until 2012, where Ballmer was the company’s chief executive officer. The connection leads Ballmer to believe that Hastings is deciding not to show all his cards at this stage of the game.
Even if it is being quietly considered inside the depths of Netflix headquarters, Ballmer points out that live sports may not necessarily want to play Netflix’s game anyway. With the amount of money in live sport, it wouldn’t be outside the realm of possibility for sports leagues to come up with their own platform to bring customers live viewing in the not too distant future.
“Sports leagues are popular enough that if the NFL wanted to have all games on NFL.com, they could. And they could reach every place Netflix reaches,” he explained, although he clarified that he wasn’t speaking on behalf of any sporting codes, merely making the suggestion.
Ballmer himself has been trying to come up with a business model whereby Clippers fans are able to watch the team’s games directly. While he didn’t create his own platform to bring consumers the games directly, he signed a deal with Fox and developed a plan with the network that allows fans to change the angle at which they view the game themselves.
He clarified what this meant in teams of the dollar value of the team: “If I looked to sell the team now, the first number would be a three.”
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