Insights / Industry / Netflix Live Events: Entering a New Game

Netflix Live Events: Entering a New Game

Industry / 14th May 2024

When you think of Netflix you think of bingeable box-sets. You think of ‘the gold standard of streaming‘. Or maybe you think of staying up all night to finish a series you promised your partner you wouldn’t watch without them. What you probably don’t imagine is rushing to get the popcorn ready in time for the start of a live event.

Netflix is relatively new to the world of live streamed content.

However, they have accelerated their experimentation into how live events can drive a concentrated volume of viewers since 2023. In the midst of Upfronts season, each platform’s monetisation of their ad products is in centre stage. And there’s nothing better for ad spend than high profile live event viewing.

With a recent landmark deal with WWE to exclusively stream their entertainment wrestling shows and a shock win of the rights to show the Christmas NFL Games, it’s safe to say that Netflix is revving up its live stream machine.

So, how have their experiments with live streamed content gone? And, more importantly, what can you learn from the patterns of viewership?


Does Laughter Trump Live Sports on Netflix?

So far, live streamed Netflix events fall into the following categories:

  • Live Sports Events
  • Ceremonies or Live Fan Events
  • Stand-up Comedy Live

Let’s dive a bit deeper into what these categories mean and how they performed.


Live Sports Events

These are not league-supported sports matches. Instead they are exhibition events like Rafael Nadal taking on Carlos Alcaraz in a Netflix-organised tennis match called The Netflix Slam (performance shown by the green line in the chart at the end of this article). But that doesn’t mean that Netflix doesn’t have bigger plans down the line…

Or, off the back of the success of F1’s: Drive to Survive, a golf match between F1 drivers in The Netflix Cup (performance shown by the purple line in the chart at the end of this article).

Recent announcements include a boxing match between Mike Tyson and Youtube sensation Jake Paul.

Most importantly, Netflix is clearly distinguishing its offering from NBCU, Disney+, Max and Prime Video who are all engaged in constant negotiations for the purchase of existing sports rights. 

Conclusion: These events failed to drive significant viewership to Netflix. Nonetheless, the viewing pattern closely followed the standard curve of live TV sports viewing. The real test will come in measuring the results of this year’s Christmas NFL games.

Neither event reached 200 million viewer minutes during the day of broadcast. However, The Netflix Slam currently sits in the top 10 opening days of broadcast for 2024. So, while the overall viewership doesn’t compare to other shows, live sports events reintroduce the idea of hourly scheduling to SVOD. An important step forward when it comes to fully monetising their advertising products.


Ceremonies or Live Fan Events: 

Netflix’s own fan and content promotion event Tudum, originally streamed live on Youtube, has been going for a good few years.

More recently the 30th Annual Screen Guild Awards ceremony was also streamed live globally on Netflix. The red line in the chart below shows that the ceremony generated over 200 million viewer minutes on the day of broadcast. This places it in the top 10 launch day ratings for 2024.

There’s nothing further in the current pipeline that fits this category.

These type of live streamed events emulate Max’s programming strategy with high profile show reunion events or live streamed award ceremonies (in some territories Max broadcast the most recent Oscar’s ceremony live). 

Conclusion: The 30th Annual Screen Actors Guild Awards proves that this kind of event can perform well on Netflix. It scored the highest live viewing figures of all the live events included in this study. 

Netflix Live Streamed Content Performance

Viewing figures sourced from passively collected data through Digital i’s proprietary software from a representative panel of 10,750 subscriber accounts.


Live Stand-up Comedy

The month of May featured three Netflix live stand-ups from Tom Brady, John Mulaney and Kat Williams. As is evidenced by the data, live-streamed comedy doesn’t generate as big an audience on the day of broadcast as sports events, but the overall viewing volume is significant. Chris Rock: Selective Outrage viewing peaked the day after broadcast, generating over 350 million viewer minutes across the US, UK, France, Germany, Italy, Spain and the Nordics. 

Conclusion: Stand-up comedy has ebbed and flowed in terms of importance in Netflix’s catalogue. It is still unclear as to the value of live broadcast stand-up for Netflix considering the additional expense and infrastructure required to pull it off. Bearing in mind that Netflix is a global business, it’s always going to be faced with an additional challenge when it comes to maximising the potential for their live events: time zones.


Don’t get left behind…

Research and mediatech is moving just as fast as entertainment. Sometimes it seems impossible to keep up:

Endless industry news, more data tools every day, and the ever-pressing need to deliver comprehensive strategic insight to your stakeholders. Being a media researcher isn’t easy, but it can be incredibly rewarding.

With over 20 years of experience in generating reports on viewing data and acting as an outsourced research department for major networks, we understand the challenges you face day-in day-out. 

And we want to help.

Get in touch today to find out how our team of viewing data experts can support you to create the insight your stakeholders are looking for. 

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