Netflix recently announced that is has signed an exclusive deal to air an original TV series called “House of Cards”. The move puts Netflix one step closer to being real contender against traditional cable companies, movie studios, and TV networks. Now, networks and movie studios are pulling shows and making it more difficult for Netflix to make new content available to viewers.
The DVD rental and Internet video streaming service has already been involved in a delicate dance trying to convince networks and movie studios that it is actually a good thing for their content to reach online viewers. Nevertheless, Showtime declared that it is pulling its currently-running content off Netflix and will instead stream it only to customers who have Showtime subscriptions (in other words, people who do not need/want it anyway). To make matters worse, another of Netflix’s pay-TV providers, Starz, is instituting a 90-day wait period for new content, whereas the network previously made new episodes available the day after they aired.
One has to wonder why these networks would reduce their exposure and revenue by withdrawing from online streaming deals. The only reasonable explanations are that the cable companies are applying pressure, and the networks view Netflix as a growing threat.
So, what will you no longer see on Netflix? Episodes of “Dexter” and “Californication” will be gone. When the first episode of the Starz show “Camelot” airs April 1, it will not reach Netflix until 90 days later, and subsequent episodes of that show and others like Spartacus, will experience the same lag.
The Internet is fast-moving, and Netflix seems to understand the pace, but it has a hard time convincing networks of the same thing. The owners of Showtime and Starz are hoping to attract more traditional subscribers by withholding content, but in the end, they will most likely simply lose viewers.