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Netflix revs up Formula 1 bid in first live sports push

 Illustration of racing flags made of hundred dollar bills.

Illustration: Shoshana Gordon/Axios

Netflix is among those vying for a piece of Formula 1 media rights, Insider reports.

Why it matters: It's another example of Netflix throwing out its own rulebook in its attempts to turn around its sagging stock.

Details: Netflix is competing with current rights holder ESPN, as well as NBCUniversal and Amazon.

  • ESPN has held the U.S. rights to F1 since 2018. The previous five years were held by NBCUniversal.
  • According to Insider, ESPN offered $70 million, which was below the $100 million that Formula 1 is seeking. ESPN confirmed its talks to Axios but did not specify how much it offered.

The big picture: Despite Netflix having no experience with live sports, the streaming giant has had its eye on Formula 1 for some time.

  • Netflix's docuseries "Drive to Survive" is heading into its fifth season, and Formula 1 executives have credited the series for increasing its U.S. audience.
  • Last September, Netflix co-CEO Reed Hastings told German magazine Der Spiegel he would be interested in Formula 1 rights. "A few years ago, the rights to Formula 1 were sold," he said. "At that time we were not among the bidders, today we would think about it."
  • A month later, Ian Holmes, Formula 1's director of media rights, told TheWrap that Netflix "inquired as to sort of how the process works."

The bottom line: Between sports and advertising, there are no more sacred cows for Netflix.

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