Showing Hulu Plus that it's the boss when it comes to streaming television shows, Netflix (Nasdaq: NFLX ) has signed a multiyear deal for CW Network content.
Similar to a deal signed with AMC Networks (Nasdaq: AMCX ) last week, Netflix's growing digital library will add previous seasons of scripted shows that air on The CW. From Gossip Girl to 90210, the network's teen-oriented dramas will be available to Netflix's 21.8 million domestic streaming customers at their beck and call.
However, what makes this deal unique is that it is, well, unique.
"Netflix will be the only online destination where viewers can instantly watch complete prior seasons of The CW's current scripted series and future shows," reads the press release.
In other words, there's exclusivity here. How do you like them apples, Hulu?
The CW is owned by Time Warner (NYSE: TWX ) and CBS (NYSE: CBS ) , two media giants that typically prefer to work with as many digital distributors as possible. CBS' original Star Trek series, for example, is available through both Netflix and Amazon.com's (Nasdaq: AMZN ) unlimited streaming platforms.
However, the CW Network deal means that Netflix is going "where no plan has gone before" or where no other plan can follow over the next few years.
The CW's content may not exactly be marquee material, but this deal covers future shows for the next few years as well. In other words, if The CW happens to get the next Mad Men, Netflix is going to have exclusive streaming rights of complete prior seasons.
As a consumer, I don't like that the land grab has turned into brokering exclusivity deals. It will make it harder for couch potatoes to stick to just one service once others begin trying to sign similar agreements. However, since there is no unlimited streaming service that can match Netflix's reach or earnings power, it's unlikely that a studio would settle for a smaller player or that a rival would be able to pay more than Netflix would for exclusivity.
Netflix knows what it's doing.
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