Netflix (NASDAQ:NFLX) and Disney (NYSE:DIS) made headlines last year when they announced the creation of four shows and a miniseries based on some of Disney's Marvel Comics properties. It seems that this wasn't the only big partnership in the works between the two companies, however, as it was recently announced that Netflix would be the exclusive distributor of the sixth and final season of "Star Wars: The Clone Wars."
Last March, Lucasfilm announced that "The Clone Wars" was coming to an end. Additional story arcs were being produced, but the studio referred to them as "bonus content" with no definite air date. This content has now been compiled into the 13-episode sixth season that will debut as a Netflix exclusive on March 7 in the U.S. and Canada.
Scoring the director's cuts
In addition to debuting season six of "The Clone Wars," the new deal with Disney also gives Netflix the exclusive right to air the "director's cut" versions of episodes in the previous seasons. These episodes were previously only available on the DVD releases of the complete "Clone Wars" seasons, making the Netflix deal the first time that they have been available for broadcast (or streaming, as the case may be). Though the "director's cut" versions don't add a significant amount of new material to the episodes, they do generally clock in at a minute or more longer and provide expansions or takeaways for existing scenes.
The Force is strong with this deal
"The Clone Wars" previously aired on Time Warner's (NYSE: TWX) Cartoon Network, though the contract that the network aired the series under expired around the time that Disney acquired Lucasfilm. When it was announced that the series was ending, fans were left with a lot of questions and very few answers. Though more story arcs were promised, the fact that they were referred to as "bonus content" made it seem as though they might come in a different format or could be significantly different than the series that fans had come to love.
With the Netflix deal, the new episodes will appear in a 13-episode season known as "The Lost Missions" (similar to how three of the five existing seasons had names such as "Secrets Revealed" and "Battle Lines"). The deal also includes the "Clone Wars" movie that served as a pilot for the series, and locks the entire series into streaming exclusivity with Netflix for multiple years.
More to come from Disney
While "The Clone Wars" is the first Star Wars content to appear on Netflix, it likely won't be the last. Netflix and Disney have a deal in place that makes Netflix the exclusive streaming home for first-run content from Disney and some of its subsidiaries starting in 2016. The deal covers both live-action and animated content, so potentially popular films such as Star Wars: Episode VII, Finding Dory, Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Men Tell No Tales, and more will debut on Netflix instead of competitors such as Starz (NASDAQ: STRZA).
This isn't the first time that Netflix has had Disney content, though before it was through a partnership that Netflix had with Starz. When negotiations fell through to renew the Netflix/Starz deal, Starz left and took its content with it. More Disney content has come to Netflix since the new deal was signed in 2012, including a number of the company's animated classics. Once the deal goes into full effect, the wealth of Disney content (including "The Clone Wars" and upcoming Marvel Studios exclusives such as "Daredevil" and "The Defenders") on the platform will be yet another draw to help Netflix keep new subscribers coming in.