Netflix Rumored To Be Interested In Purchasing NBA In-Season Tournament; That Means It’s Working

The NBA’s inaugural In-Season Tournament was panned by many. But rumor has it that streaming giant Netflix is considering purchasing the tournament to become the exclusive carrier. That means one thing, folks. The tournament was a good idea and it’s working.

Netflix is in the business of making money and providing maximum value to its shareholders. That drives every decision the company considers and ultimately makes.

Wait, you thought Netflix was in the entertainment business? Think again.

Entertainment is just a means to an end. Profit.

So Far So Good

For Netflix co-CEO Ted Sarandos to even consider this, he’s already seen the numbers and potential value.

The In-Season Tournament is showing an increase in ratings over the same time slots for regular season games last season.

According to SportsMediaWatch, last Friday’s tournament games were No. 1 in sports viewership. Some 1.93 million viewers tuned in for Lakers vs. Suns, and 1.41 million watched Nets vs. Celtics. Compared to last year’s equivalent doubleheader, Lakers vs. Suns viewership increased 73 percent from Bucks vs. Timberwolves while Nets-Celtics declined 4 percent from Bulls vs. Celtics.

Overall, viewership for the In-Season Tournament is now up 55 percent from the equivalent four windows last year, noting that two of those windows aired opposite the World Series.

This is just the beginning.

Once teams advance to the knockout stage, it will generate even more excitement. Nothing drives sports viewership like single elimination stakes. And the players care.

Games Have More Juice

Tournament games have been more competitive with teams understanding that margin of victory matters.

Last night’s Minnesota Timberwolves vs. Golden State Warriors group C game was back and forth and saw the Wolves overcome a 12-point deficit in a victory to remain unbeaten in group play.

Once it was clear the Wolves would win, a defeated team would normally let the final moments play out. But Warriors’ head coach Steve Kerr still kept calling plays for his team to score, knowing margin of victory will matter in the end.

The players also have a cash incentive. Now you might be thinking why do multimillionaires care about $500K? If you know anything about insanely rich people, they like to gobble up as much money as they can. It’s a competitive thing. Plus, they’re professional athletes, already in the top 1 percent of human competitors already.

“$500 [thousand] sounds real good to us. It’s going to bring that juice, you know what I mean?” said Los Angeles Lakers’ Anthony Davis after his team’s group A huge win over the Memphis Grizzlies. “I heard one of our players, I’m not going to say who, but he was like, ‘Man,’ when we beat Phoenix, ‘That’s one step closer to this $500. I’ve never had that before.’ So it’s like, that’s a little extra motivation.”

The Lakers’ win over the Grizzlies was never in doubt on Tuesday night. But they kept scoring and have a +15 margin of victory in group play.

The first team to win this tournament is going to be historic, and the tournament will continue to tweak, iterate and gain in stature. Sarandos knows this and is likely looking to get in early.

The league’s current broadcast deal expires at the end of the 2024-25 season. The earliest Netflix could grab the In-Season Tournament would be 2025. But it would give the streaming platform time to develop its plan which is sure to include creating a docuseries around the tournament, similar to super successful Netflix produced “Drive to Survive” for F1 racing, “Full Swing” for golf, and “Break Point” for tennis.

There is a large segment of viewers who tune into these programs exclusively to get to know the athletes in these sports. The NBA has some of the more interesting characters in all of sports. If done right this could prove very lucrative for Netflix, and that’s the point.

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