Netflix Taps Formula 1 Show Producer for New Tennis Series
(Bloomberg) -- Novak Djokovic’s fight to get into the Australian Open could soon be featured in a Netflix Inc. TV show.
The world’s most popular paid-video streaming service is working on a docuseries about professional tennis players that will take viewers behind the scenes of the professional tour, following the blueprint of its popular racing show “Formula 1: Drive to Survive.” Netflix has secured deals with the ATP and WTA, the governing bodies for tennis, as well as the four Grand Slam tournaments. Box to Box Films, the company that produces “Drive to Survive,” is also making the tennis series.
Netflix didn’t specify which players it would profile in the series. Production began at this year’s Australian Open and will feature equal time for the men and women.
After years of expressing no interest in sports, Netflix is starting to offer quite a lot of them. It announced earlier this week a golf docuseries about the PGA Tour. Documentary series about sports have proven to be a big hit with its viewers, who can’t watch any live competitions on the service.
The popularity of “Drive to Survive” inspired Netflix’s unscripted programming chief, Brandon Riegg, to line up similar shows. The streaming industry leader has repeatedly said it isn’t interested in bidding up for rights to live sports.
“We are excited to continue bolstering our lineup of sports programming with this behind-the-scenes documentary series,” Riegg said in a statement. “Tennis is beloved all over the world, with high-stakes tournaments hopping across continents and athletes hailing from countless countries.”
Riegg noted the service has chosen to invest in sports with global fan bases that feature athletes from many countries. These series are also cost-efficient. Netflix will spend less on multiple seasons of shows about Formula 1 and golf than TV networks spend to broadcast the NFL or NBA for a single year.
The sports have benefited as well. “Drive to Survive” has attracted new fans to Formula 1, prompting other leagues to try and replicate its success.
Tennis is a niche sport in the U.S. compared with football or basketball. The 2021 U.S. Open in New York averaged 796,000 viewers over two weeks of telecasts, the second-least watched tournament since ESPN took over exclusive rights in 2015, according to Sports Media Watch. The women’s final drew more viewers than the men’s event.
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