On the heels of Blockbuster's bankruptcy filing -- and Netflix's entry into Canada with its movie and TV show streaming service -- the mail-order DVD rental pioneer is making yet another move to grab new customers in an increasingly competitive market. On Friday, Netflix announced an expanded license agreement with NBC Universal Domestic Television Distribution.
The multiyear deal lets Netflix members instantly watch broadcast series from the NBC television network. The deal includes content from some of NBC Universal's popular cable channels, a first for Netflix.
The NBC agreement adds more value to Netflix's 15 million-plus members, who pay $8.99 in the U.S. for unlimited DVD rentals and streaming content. It also positions Netflix as stronger against any potential rebound Blockbuster has planned as it remakes its beleaguered business model.
A Classic Content Lineup
With the expanded NBC deal, Netflix customers can now watch episodes from every season of Saturday Night Live, including day-after broadcasts of the upcoming 2010, 2011 and 2012 seasons plus hundreds of episodes from the first 35 years of the comedy show.
Netflix members can also watch every episode from the last season of the multiple Emmy Award-winning series 30 Rock, The Office, and Law & Order: SVU, as well as earlier seasons of those shows renewed for streaming.
Also included in the new content deal are all prior seasons -- and eventually next year's final season -- of Friday Night Lights, as well as all prior seasons of USA Network hits Psych, the drama In Plain Sight, and Monk. Prior seasons of all three shows are available to watch instantly at Netflix for the first time.
NBC is also throwing into the Netflix content mix more than 75 prior-season episodes of Syfy's mainstay Battlestar Galactica, as well as prior seasons of the network's popular Destination Truth and Eureka.
"We are very pleased to continue our successful relationship with Netflix," said Frances Manfredi, executive vice president and general sales manager of cable and non-theatrical sales for NBC Universal Domestic TV Distribution, who forged the deal. "We applaud Netflix for recognizing the value of content like SNL, Friday Night Lights, Monk, and Battlestar Galactica to their subscribers."
Hedging Against Blockbuster
Netflix is hedging against a Blockbuster comeback with the NBC deal, the Canada play, and a licensing deal with Nu Image/Millennium Films. Nu Image and Millennium Films are best known for big-budget action-thriller movies such as The Expendables, John Rambo, Brooklyn's Finest, Righteous Kill, 16 Blocks, and Black Dahlia.
"Disc rentals are fading out and over the next few years will go by the wayside. Even Redbox is recognizing that they need to have an online capability," said Keith Nissen, principal analyst at In-Stat. "The market trend is moving toward electronic sell-through, whether it be purchase or rental."