Netflix will livestream the first awards ceremony on its service next year, broadening its early moves into live programming with the Screen Actors Guild Awards in early 2024.
The SAG Awards’ upcoming 2023 ceremony will be shown live on Netflix’s YouTube channel in February, before the program available live on Netflix’s paid subscription service next year. The agreement is an exclusive, multiyear deal starting in 2024, but financial terms weren’t disclosed.
It isn’t the first instance of Netflix’s ambitions to branch into live programming, after it built itself into the world’s biggest streaming service by subscribers by focusing squarely on video you watch on demand. Netflix has a live Chris Rock comedy special set for early 2023, and the company has reportedly flirted with adding some live sports too.
But the SAG Awards are the latest example of Netflix morphing as streaming competition intensifies.
Over more than three years, Hollywood’s major entertainment companies (and some big tech ones too) have piled on with their own subscription streaming services, embracing that as the future of TV. These so-called streaming wars ratcheted up Netflix’s competition, contributing to its first subscriber losses since it had been shipping DVDs by mail. Feeling the heat, Netflix has been evolving itself to offer gaming, ad-supported cheaper subscriptions and, soon, live shows. While that may make your Netflix subscription feel more well-rounded, the company’s efforts can sting subscribers too: Ais about to kick off soon this year, for example.
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“The SAG Awards are beloved by the creative community and viewers alike, and now even more fans around the world will be able to celebrate these talented actors,” Bela Bajaria, Netflix’s head of global TV, said in a release about the news. “As we begin to explore live streaming on Netflix, we look forward to partnering with SAG-AFTRA to elevate and expand this special ceremony as a global live event in 2024 and the years to come.”
SAG-AFTRA is the union that runs the awards. Its national executive director, Duncan Crabtree-Ireland, said the union was looking “forward to expanding the global audience for our show,” which he noted is “the only televised awards program exclusively honoring the performances of actors, whose work is admired by millions of fans.”
The television audiences for Hollywood awards shows have been struggling for years. Last year’s Oscars ceremony enjoyed a big bump up in viewership from the previous telecast, when the depths of the pandemic depressed the number of films released and the attention of film fans — but 2022’s Oscars still had their second-worst viewership ratings ever.
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