The Netflix Cup was one of Netflix’s first forays into live broadcasting and boy did it show. The production was all over the place, no one knew the rules, and no one knew what this was supposed to be. Watching this is an exercise in Schadenfreude and it is delicious.
For some context, the Netflix Cup was a short 8-hole game of golf with an F1 driver paired with a PGA golfer that competed against other pairs. Carlos Sainz was paired with Justin Thomas (the winners), Lando Norris with Rickie Fowler, Pierre Gasly with Tony Finau, and Alex Albon with Max Homa. There’s nothing wrong with the concept really, especially because it was a bit of fun for charity. Where the Netflix Cup failed was in its execution.
From the start there were issues. Starting up the replay on my TV, immediately the audio didn’t work. It wasn’t distorted or anything, it simply wasn’t there. This could have simply been an issue with the Netflix player, but I’ve personally never experienced anything like it on Netflix before. I had to restart the stream to get it working again and, in a sense, I regretted that decision, but in a much more cynical way, I thoroughly enjoyed myself.
It was a trainwreck and I couldn’t look away.
Right at the first hole, nobody knew who won and the players were left arguing on the green for five minutes before either a producer or an umpire of some sort resolved it. The commentators couldn’t even help explain what was going on because it was very clear that they weren’t sure either.
The commentators, professional sportscaster, Kay Adams, and PGA Tour player, Joel Dahmen, had some brilliant moments of… cringe, for lack of a better word. Dahmen either didn’t care or didn’t know what he was supposed to be doing, prompting a few barbs from Adams and even one of the players.
For example, the commentators could speak to the players on the course and Dahmen seemed to be heckling one of the golfers, Justin Thomas. Thomas seemed confused and said something to the effect of, “I don’t know where you are or who you are, but shut up.” This exchange saw Dahmen go quiet for a bit while Adams said her co-host was “going back to broadcasting 101.” Adams had her own fair share of awkward moments, but she had nothing to work with and had to carry the broadcast almost alone. When she would prompt Dahmen, her co-host would sometimes not reply to her and stare intently at the screen watching the golf game leaving an awkward silence for us all to share.
It was hilarious.
You know who thought they were hilarious but weren’t? Bert Kreischer. During the introductory interviews with the players, he got through half of them before getting distracted and moving his attention towards NFL running back, Marshawn Lynch… who was on his phone. And so, a meandering, unprepared conversation started.
This is not to throw shade at Lynch who genuinely was hilarious… when he was on camera. Adams even mentioned on air that they had no idea where he was, he just kept disappearing. Kreischer said, again on-air, that Lynch was interviewing people all around the course without any idea that he wasn’t on-air.
Live broadcasts are hard, no doubt. But usually there seems to be a plan, and everyone involved knows what’s going on at least a little bit. The problem was you heard so much going wrong behind the scenes live on air!
At one point you could hear someone in the production team asking where some tools were and if there was any space to store something. It was harmless, but it shouldn’t have been on the air.
We should go easy on Netflix because it’s their first time doing a live sports broadcast. It’s not like Netflix is a huge corporation with plenty of resources, right?
The players and drivers seemed to have a good time though, blissfully unaware of the chaos unfolding behind the scenes. Though you could hear Justin Thomas tell the commentators to stop talking to him as he thought he was just playing golf with Carlos Sainz and Lando Norris. Again, something that is probably said during live shows, but not for everyone to hear!
One scene saw Bert Kreischer talking about the crowd and the party going on, once his piece was done, you could hear him ask what I assume was the director, “Was that good? We good?” before the feed was cut.
It was an amateur production that the producers should be embarrassed about, despite my enjoyment. They did have professionals producing this though, with Full Day Productions lending a hand, the company behind the ESPY Awards, the Oscars Red Carpet Show, and the NFL Honors. It’s not like they didn’t have experience, but they either didn’t know what this was going to be, or they didn’t have enough time to prepare properly.
Topping it all off was Carlos Sainz dropping the trophy and breaking it. A chaotic end to a chaotic event.
Anyway, if you want a textbook exercise in Schadenfreude, go watch the Netflix Cup on Netflix. It’s so bad, it’s good.