Putting Breaking Bad on Netflix is credited for the ratings surge the AMC series has experienced this season as more viewers discover the serialized drama. ABC is hoping for a similar bump for the second seasons of its returning serialized dramas Once Upon A Time, Revenge and Scandal. In a unusual move so early into series’ runs, the complete first seasons of the three ABC shows are being made available for U.S. members to watch instantly on Netflix and will become exclusive to Netflix at the end of the month. The move is timed to get the three series out just days before their second-season premieres.
Disney-ABC has always been more open than its counterparts to video subscription services, including signing the first deal with iTunes back in the day. A number of its series, including Grey’s Anatomy, Private Practice, Desperate Housewives and Lost, already have its previous seasons available on Netflix. The decision to put Once Upon A Time, Revenge and Scandal on Netflix is in stark contract with CBS’ policy on its series. For example, drama Person Of Interest, also heading into its second season, can’t be seen anywhere online, which has been a bone of contention with its creators.
The old school of thought has been to keep a network’s exclusivity of content and to protect the syndication value of a series by limiting the number of reruns. But for serialized dramas, off-network syndication has been an ever-diminishing prospect, while video streaming services such as Netflix have emerged as a suitable alternative as such content thrives on those platforms. Many series, such as NCIS and most recently How I Met Your Mother and The Big Bang Theory, saw ratings increases when their previous seasons began airing in syndication. ABC is hoping to see the same with Once Upon A Time, Revenge and Scandal. Or at least make the shows accessible to new viewers as getting into a serialized drama later into its run is difficult for the uninitiated, leading to inevitable ratings declines.