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Netflix Signs Streaming Deal for Warner TV Series

7 Jan, 2013 By: Erik Gruenwedel

The agreement is further validation by Time Warner of the SVOD market for TV programming

Netflix Jan. 7 said it signed a license deal with Warner Bros. Television Group giving it subscription video-on-demand access to previous seasons of eight current and upcoming TV programs.

Shows include NBC drama "Revolution," from J.J. Abrams set in a post-apocalyptic America, which ranks as the No. 1 new series of the 2012–13 primetime season; "Political Animals," the USA Network miniseries with Sigourney Weaver in a Golden Globe– and Screen Actors Guild Award–nominated role as a former first lady serving as secretary of state; "Longmire," A&E's top-rated Western mystery series based on the novels by best-selling author Craig Johnson; and "666 Park Avenue," the ABC supernatural thriller starring Terry O'Quinn and Vanessa Williams.

Also coming to Netflix will be drama "The Following," starring Kevin Bacon as a former FBI agent on the trail of a serial killer played by James Purefoy, which premieres Jan. 21 on Fox, as well as series "Chuck," "Fringe" and "The West Wing."

Warner Bros. Television is the largest producer of episodic programming to broadcast, cable, satellite and telecommunication operators. The unit represents about 10% of Time Warner's gross profit.

"This unprecedented agreement brings to Netflix members earlier and more exclusively than ever before complete previous seasons of some of the most prominent and successful shows on network and cable television," Ted Sarandos, chief content officer with Netflix, said in a statement. "Through deals like this, Netflix is making the production economics right for the continued creation of the kind of compelling serialized dramas and thrillers that our members love."

Under the non-exclusive agreement, the shows can also be made available via traditional syndication windows, electronic sellthrough services and on a catch-up basis for recently aired episodes. Regardless, the deal underscores an ongoing shift by parent Time Warner to embrace streaming as a valid distribution channel not necessarily detrimental to traditional distribution.

CEO Jeff Bewkes has infamously criticized Netflix and other streaming services as low-margin operations, among other issues. With Netflix willing to pay a premium for content, Time Warner has become amenable to the incremental revenue.

"SVOD has become an important window for our serialized dramas, allowing viewers a chance to discover a series that before might have been intimidating to tune into mid-run," said Bruce Rosenblum, president of Warner Bros. Television Group. "We continue to adapt our business models to include SVOD when it makes sense for the long-term value of each show and are thrilled to have Netflix as one of our distribution partners."

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