Netflix’s Impact on the World of Sports

Eva Casher, Insights Manager

July 13th, 2023

After its successful Formula One docuseries, ‘Drive to Survive,’ Netflix invested heavily in similar shows — ‘Full Swing’ surrounding professional golf and ‘Break Point’ focused on professional tennis.

What do Netflix’s shows do for readership around the sports they highlight? We analyzed U.S. readership across golf, tennis, and F1 to uncover how each docuseries impacts interest in each sport. Keep reading to learn what we found.

Netflix taps new audiences and sports leagues gain new fans.

Golf, tennis, and F1 all saw a boost in readership as a result of their corresponding Netflix shows. Netflix, which usually sees highest readership on News, Entertainment, and Lifestyle outlets, was able to get in front of a new audience. The three shows generated over 5 million readers on Sports & Athletics coverage. 

Fans flock to the personalities behind the players.

Readership trends suggest fans are eager to learn more about athletes and who they are as people. Docuseries articles focused on players drove an average readership 1.2x higher than articles about the documentary more broadly.

Furthermore, readership signaled that fans are interested in learning about athletes with interesting stories, not just the top players. Nick Kyrgios (tennis) and Joel Dahmen (golf) saw high readership after being featured despite their professional rankings.

Readership fluctuates with release strategies.

Netflix teased ‘Full Swing’ at the Super Bowl and released it mid-tournament season, 6 weeks before the Masters. ‘Break Point’ was released during the Australian Open. The tournament went on to generate the highest readership of 2023. Finally, ‘Drive to Survive’ season 5 was released one month before the season began to re-engage and excite its audience base.

While ‘Full Swing’ generated the highest readership overall, ‘Drive to Survive’ made up the highest percentage of F1 readership at its release. Perhaps a release leading up to the season’s start is the way Netflix maximizes attention and sports leagues can capitalize most on fan interest.

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