UPDATE, 11:10 AM: This deal’s more lucrative than it initially seemed. Wells Fargo Securities analyst Marci Ryvicker figures it could be worth as much as $1B for CW. While she acknowledges that “the accounting is somewhat complex,” she says that CBS — which co-owns CW with Time Warner — might see an additional 5 cents a share annually. Lazard Capital Markets’ Barton Crockett says it could contribute 2 cents a share to Time Warner. “The money-losing CW may also retain a minority of the Netflix fee, helping reduce its losses,” he adds. The deal’s so valuable because CW’s young-skewing shows fit well with the audience that streams shows on demand from Netflix. What’s more, Netflix’s payments escalate for long-running series.
Warner Bros Television Group president Bruce Rosenblum won’t comment on the financials but says the terms “won’t be repeated” because “other networks don’t own (as much of) their own content.” This isn’t an exclusive deal in the traditional sense — the shows can appear elsewhere — but Netflix has a narrow right to show entire seasons on-demand from previous years. (Others can license select episodes.) “We know from Day 1 that the syndication on-demand window has been sold, but we also have the ability to sell linear rights down the road,” Rosenblum says. CW shows also may continue to run on Netflix even if the deal isn’t renewed; the online service has the right to keep offering series that begin while it’s in force.
PREVIOUS, 7:55 AM: This one follows the usual pattern: Nothing current — just previous seasons of CW series. And it’s not exclusive. Producers can continue to sell their shows in syndication and to other digital services. No mention of how much Netflix will pay for the programming. Here’s the release:
October 13, 2011 — CBS Corporation and Warner Bros. Television Group announced today a licensing agreement with Netflix [Nasdaq: NFLX] allowing U.S. members of Netflix to instantly watch previous seasons of scripted series that air on The CW from its current schedule through the 2014-15 season.
As part of this four-year output deal, Netflix has licensed the rights to stream more than 700 hours of previous-season episodes of The CW’s young-skewing dramas as well as future programs. These rights extend for four years after each series, current or future, ends its broadcast run on the network. The CW content can also be made available via traditional syndication windows, electronic sell-through services and, on a partial-season basis, through authenticated cable providers.
Programming available to Netflix members will include the eight dramas on The CW’s Fall 2011 schedule, including new series “Ringer,” “Hart of Dixie” and “The Secret Circle;” returning hits “The Vampire Diaries,” “Gossip Girl,” “90210,” “Supernatural,” “Nikita” and mid-season series, “One Tree Hill.”
Previous seasons of “The Vampire Diaries,” “Gossip Girl,” “One Tree Hill” and “Nikita” will be available to watch instantly on October 15, with previous seasons of “Supernatural” and “90210” beginning in January 2012. Episodes of all scripted series airing on The CW this broadcast season will premiere for Netflix members in Fall 2012. In addition, all episodes of future scripted series appearing on The CW through the 2014-15 season will be available to stream from Netflix through a commensurate window.
With this agreement, Netflix members can catch up on prior seasons of the network’s addictive serialized dramas streaming from Netflix as well as watch new episodes on The CW during their in-season broadcast.
“This is a forward-thinking agreement for a network whose programming occupies a unique space in the content marketplace,” said Leslie Moonves, President & Chief Executive Officer, CBS Corporation. “It is a model that opens a new door for The CW programming to expand its audience reach through the terrific Netflix service, and creates a brand-new window for CBS and Warner Bros. to be paid for the content we supply the network. It also further illustrates how new distribution systems are providing premium content suppliers with additive revenue streams while still preserving traditional monetization windows.”
“This proves once again the overriding importance of content in our business, while showing how emerging platforms such as Netflix are adding value to the traditional TV ecosystem,” said Barry Meyer, Chairman & CEO, Warner Bros. “And to open a new window like this for our television product strengthens the increasing value of our powerful, deep and growing portfolio.”
“We have long admired the CW’s ability to connect so passionately and directly with a very important and difficult to reach demographic,” said Ted Sarandos, Chief Content Officer at Netflix. “This is programming for the on-demand generation and we hope this agreement deepens the relationships viewers already have with these powerful entertainment brands.”
“This agreement is a clear example of why content creators and providers can and will grow stronger through technology partnerships tailored to the consumer,” said Bruce Rosenblum, President, Warner Bros. Television Group and Office of the President. “It extends our traditional syndication windows with a strong, additive revenue play perfect for serialized dramas, and portends even greater growth opportunities for our studio as we continue to explore and define the marketplace.”
“This deal works across multiple levels for us,” said Mark Pedowitz, President, The CW. “Not only will we be able to recruit new viewers for our shows through the powerful reach of Netflix, but it also makes The CW an even more attractive option to the creative community.”