Netflix would 'think about' buying F1 if it were for sale

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Netflix's Reed Hastings says the US streaming giant would consider making a bid for F1 if the sport came up for sale, to take control over live broadcasting of races.

In the wake of its $8 billion takeover of Formula 1 in 2017, Liberty Media launched a year later its own over-the-top platform, F1 TV, that streams races live and enhances the fans' viewer experience of Grand Prix racing.

However, the sport's commercial rights holder still derives the majority of its revenue from traditional TV broadcasters, with F1 TV restricted in certain geographical markets such as the UK where broadcasting rights are held exclusively by Sky Sports.

While a selection of live sports is available on streaming service Amazon Prime Video, Netflix has so far shied away from competing with live TV or live coverage of sport events, despite its massive subscription audience.

"We make entertainment and not journalism, which should have certain standards and follow ethical guidelines," Hastings told Germany's Der Spiegel. "We also keep our hands off live sport.

"With sports broadcasts we have no control over the source. We don’t own the Bundesliga, which can make deals with whomever it wants.

"But this kind of control would be a prerequisite for us to be able to offer our customers a secure deal."

With total control over content and production a precondition for Netflix to delve into the world of live sports or entertainment, Hastings interestingly suggested that if Formula 1 came up for sale, his company could make a bid, perhaps enticed by the resounding success of its annual 'Drive to Survive' docu-series on F1.

"A few years back, the Formula 1 rights were sold," he said. "At that time, we were not among the bidders, but today we would definitely consider that now."

Earlier this year, Formula 1 revealed that it was in regular contact with Amazon over a potential TV rights deal, with the sport already enjoying a productive partnership with Amazon Web Services.

"We’re talking to them about specifically acquiring our rights, in the same way you would sell to any other media company," commented at the time Ian Holmes, F1's director of media rights.

"But we’re also talking to them about a channels arrangement where we have got the opportunity of putting F1 TV into the market."

Rumors recently emerged that a consortium in Saudi Arabia is mulling a bid for Formula 1. But if Liberty Media is seriously considering off-loading its F1 asset, Netflix and Amazon could join the fray and lead a bidding war for motorsport's prime jewel.

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