updated 02:50 pm EST, Thu December 2, 2010
Netflix hoping to get streaming of new TV episodes
Netflix has been pressing hard to get current TV shows on Watch Instantly, according to rumors surrounding negotiations. The company reportedly said it was willing to pay between $70,000 and $100,000 per episode if it meant getting access to a given season while still on the air. Most of the "friction" in the discussions, the New York Post's sources said, has been TV broadcast owners arguing that they have rights over current-season TV that even the show producers themselves would lack.
None of the involved studios were named. Netflix has also declined to comment.
A deal if successful could create a major upheaval in TV viewing online. Recent TV would put Netflix on par with Hulu Plus in some areas and would jeopardize its attempts to please both content providers and networks. Hulu was based on the direct involvement of Fox, NBC and later ABC and has usually tried to stay on their side by agreeing to block access to the free Hulu service to any app or platform that could theoretically be used for "cord-cutters" dropping traditional TV, including Google TV. Netflix, not being obligated to traditional TV channels to stay in business, could show new episodes on its own terms and without the ads that Hulu requires.
Deals are already in place for previous seasons of TV shows from NBC as well as less wide-ranging agreements for other episodes.
Movie and TV studios commenting on the discussions implied that Netflix's role in online video has increasingly taken on parallels to Apple's influence in music. Both were initially heavily courted by the industry as a means of salvation for what was perceived as rampant piracy, but the willingness to make deals has given the two commanding positions in their respective fields that has made it difficult to succeed without a presence on one single store. In the case of Netflix, it has made both official deals where its streaming rights go up in return for delays as well as sideways deals with pay TV outlets to get recent movie rights without having to negotiate directly.
Its influence has led to even normally isolated rivals like Apple agreeing to support Netflix and ultimately led to Blockbuster's bankruptcy.
Time Warner has been one of the most vocal opponents to Netflix and has threatened longer delays on video rights in an attempt to protect the declining physical disc business.