Following on from our blog ‘Netflix Sport: Tennis’, a recent release follows suit. In February of 2023 Netflix released its long-awaited golf documentary, Full Swing. The docu-series follows the same format as ‘Break point’ and is centred around professional golfers on and off the course across a season of the high-stakes PGA Tour. The show has received a mix of reviews and we are not surprised. Golf is a massive sport, played by millions of people and is not shy of its superstars, but how has it held up in comparison of ‘Break point’ and ‘F1:Drive to Survive’?
Full Swings success
For those who don’t watch or play golf, it can be a hard sport to understand let alone enjoy. This was one of the first hurdles Netflix faced. Unlike ‘F1: Drive to Survive’ there isn’t fast cars and loud engines with dramatic scenes to attract non-fans. To make the show successful, Netflix opted to target as many new fans as possible, but demanding a show be accessible to non-golf fans comes with its challenges.
To counteract this, Netflix made the show exciting and accessible for the casual viewer. Viewers will only need a brief idea on golf to enjoy it. The series shows the drama and issues surrounding being a golf professional. It also features a few faces that any sport fan will know, such as:
- Rory McIlroy
- Matt Fitzpatrick
- Jordan Spieth
- Dustin Johnson
The show tries to humanise the stars with exclusive behind-the-scenes content of player outbreaks. It also introduces the controversial LIV League. A Saudi funded league that is taking some of the top golfing stars away from the traditional PGA Tour. The series is predominantly pro-PGA and highlights the issues of ‘too much’ money being invested in sport. For viewers who are only somewhat interested in the sport, the idea to include the LIV League has given Full Swing that much-needed drama. Full Swing heavily focuses on money and how competitive the tournaments can be. A main theme of ‘All or Nothing’ is used throughout the show in an effort to invoke sympathy for the players (not sure I’ll be shedding a tear).
Although the show does succeed in targeting new audiences by introducing a sense of drama. It has failed to captured the hearts of diehard golfers. Everything Full Swing did to attract new fans to the sport, existing golf fans hated. This is a common theme with sport docu-series, diehard fans who understand the ins-and-outs of a sport know the reality and understand when things are being dramatised. The issue with dramatisation is fans will be up-to-date with all the news, transfers, tournament winners and scandals as they happen, getting rid of any shock factor or suspense.
Diehard fans are still likely to watch the show, but Netflix may struggle with retention. However, Full Swing has already been renewed for season two. So, should Netflix prioritise existing fans or target new audiences?
Utilising an existing fanbase
Existing audiences are great for retention. A loyal fanbase will not only return to your content but may act as an advocate for new audiences. An issue in targeting new audiences is the risk of changing content that attracted your fan base in the first place. Full Swing is a good example of this. Instead of giving golf fans the content they wanted, Netflix opted to try and replicate the success of F1:Drive to Survive, resulting in negative reviews from existing fans. Although targeting new audiences isn’t a negative for any organisation, if there is potential to create a sustainable revenue through an existing audience, why take the risk?
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