Netflix is no longer simply in the “sports-adjacent” business. On Wednesday, the streaming giant announced a three-season deal with the National Football League that will include showing two Christmas Day games on its service this year. It’s the first time Netflix has become partners with a major sports league, and it likely won’t be the last.

The move follows Netflix’s increasingly aggressive push into the business of live events. In the past two weeks, “The Roast of Tom Brady” was its most-watched English-language TV show; a quirky six-day John Mulaney talk show went viral as part of the Netflix Is a Joke live comedy festival in Los Angeles; and the stand-up special “Katt Williams: Woke Foke” was viewed 4.3 million times.

“Last year, we decided to take a big bet on live — tapping into massive fandoms across comedy, reality TV, sports and more,” Bela Bejaria, Netflix’s chief content officer, said in a statement. “There are no live annual events, sports or otherwise, that compare with the audiences N.F.L. football attracts.”

The two Christmas games will pit the Houston Texans against the visiting Baltimore Ravens and the Pittsburgh Steelers against the visiting Kansas City Chiefs (raising the odds for greater viewership with a potential Taylor Swift sighting).

The streaming business has matured in the United States, and though Netflix is the dominant service, it still needs to keep growing. With subscriptions relatively maxed out in America, the growth of other revenue streams has become crucial to the company’s success. Advertising is chief among them.

At a time when more people are dropping their traditional cable subscriptions, live sports remain catnip for advertisers because they are one place where audiences are guaranteed in real time. That is especially true for the N.F.L., which remains a ratings juggernaut.


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