Thursday, July 15, 2010, 9:06 AM ET|Posted by Will RichmondLast week I happened to be reviewing the catalog of Netflix Watch Instantly TV shows available and noticed something curious: all 6 seasons of Nip/Tuck were available. Not only was this the only TV series where all episodes were available, the finale episode had only been aired just a few months ago. That's unusual for Netflix, which typically only has sporadic, older seasons of TV shows available for streaming. I then checked out Hulu Plus and didn't find any Nip/Tuck full episodes available, just a smattering of clips. Considering Nip/Tuck was an FX show (a network owned by News Corp, which is a Hulu owner) and a perfect candidate to bolster Hulu Plus's mainly broadcast TV catalog, I wondered what was going?
This morning's WSJ answers my question: Netflix has signed a deal with Warner Bros. Home Entertainment Group to carry Nip/Tuck, as well as other lesser series such as "Veronica Mars," "Pushing Daisies" and "Terminator: The Sarah Connor Chronicles." (Warner Bros. produced the show) The deal illustrates the challenges Hulu Plus has ahead of it in trying to position itself as a comprehensive subscription service for more than just broadcast TV shows online.
The deal also underscores Netflix's relentless pursuit of additional content for its streaming catalog. Speculating a bit, I think it's also a dividend from the company's 28-day DVD delay deal with Warner Bros. from earlier this year. At the time I asserted that Netflix was trying to be a valuable partner to Warner Bros. by agreeing to give the studio a little breathing room to eke out some additional DVD sales before Netflix rentals kick in. First and foremost that deal made good business sense for Netflix, but I think it also showed studios that Netflix is trying to play nicely rather than trying to disrupt the ecosystem. Lo and behold a few months later the deal for Nip/Tuck and others occurs.
Netflix is being smart about building its streaming catalog. As the recent deal with Relativity Media also showed, Netflix is nibbling around the edges, getting access to better and better content, while continuing to demonstrate the value of its streaming feature to Hollywood. Next week Netflix will report its Q2 earnings, and no doubt it will show further big subscriber gains, adding to the almost 3 million subscribers it has added in the last 2 quarters. Though Netflix isn't directly competitive to Hulu Plus, the more deals Netflix can strike for shows like Nip/Tuck, the harder it will become for Hulu Plus to be much more than what it already is.
What do you think? Post a comment now (no sign-in required)?