UPDATED SUNDAY 5:25 pm PT Following Netflix’s Sunday morning announcement that it would not renew its agreement in the U.S. with cable network Epix, losing such movies as Hunger Games: Catching Fire and World War Z, Epix has confirmed Deadline’s report that the premium cable network will enter a new non-exclusive deal with Hulu.
“Through this new deal with Epix, we are proud to now be able to offer a huge selection of the biggest blockbusters and premium films,” said Craig Erwich, SVP, Head of Content, Hulu. “This is a landmark deal for Hulu and it marks a huge expansion for our offering of premium programming.”
Mark Greenberg, president and CEO of Epix, said, “We are excited to be partnering with Hulu, and share their commitment to providing viewers a truly premium experience, particularly as we enter the next phase of our network’s growth and development.”
In a statement Sunday, Ted Sarandos, Netflix’s chief content officer, said, “We’ve enjoyed a five year partnership with Epix, but our strategic paths are no longer aligned. Our focus has shifted to provide great movies and TV series for our members that are exclusive to Netflix. Epix’ focus is to make sure that their movies will be widely available for consumers through a variety of platforms.”
Sarandos broke the news about the Netflix/Epix parting in a blog post earlier Sunday. “While many of [Epix’] movies are popular,” Sarandos wrote, “they are also widely available on cable and other subscription platforms at the same time as they are on Netflix and subject to the same drawn out licensing periods.” In the same message, Sarandos bemoaned lengthy studio licensing practices that often take “more than a year before consumers can watch a theatrically released movie when and how they want.”
The Netflix/Epix rift has been brewing for a few years. Since 2012, Epix has signed streaming-inclusive deals with Amazon Prime Instant Video, AT&T’s U-Verse and Dish’s Sling TV, apparently eroding Netflix’s interest in non-exclusive arrangements.
Epix was happy to be in business with Netflix for as long as it lasted, according to a source at the premium channel, but wanted to expand its reach as broadly as possible.
Sarandos attempted to balance the Epix loss by reiterating Netflix’s continuing commitment to original programming. “Just like we’ve changed the game for TV watchers by releasing entire seasons around the world at the same time, we have begun making movies that will premiere on Netflix globally and in some cases, simultaneously in theaters.”