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Showtime And Netflix Negotiating For Content

March 23, 2011

Cable channel Showtime, owned by CBS Inc., will not be offering its original TV series to Netflix or its growing streaming video services after this summer when their current agreement expires.

“Dexter” and “Californication” episodes from previous seasons will no longer be available on Netflix, as had been the previous case under the current arrangement covering the first two seasons of each program. Current original episodes will only be available on Showtime’s authenticated broadband service, “ËœShowtime Anytime’, Reuters is reporting.

Netflix appears to be caught unaware of the change in position claims Steve Swasey, Netflix’s spokesman, who has disputed that it was final that “Dexter” and “Californication” would not be coming back. Negotiations continue, he told CNET.

“We have one deal that brought in “ËœSleeper Cell’ and “ËœThe Tudors’ and a separate deal for “ËœCalifornication’ and “ËœDexter,’” Swasey said. “Negotiations [for the latter shows] are still ongoing.”

“We expect to renew our deal for “ËœDexter’ and “ËœCalifornication’ so we’re perplexed [about Showtime's comments]…we have great relationships with CBS and all their channels, including Showtime.”

The quickly-growing and very popular Netflix has been long characterized as leeching from the studios. Studio executives don’t want people getting used to watching sought-after shows on-demand for just $8 a month–less than the price of a single DVD.

The studios desire that content go through the traditional distribution chain until most of the value is squeezed out. They want cable, pay TV services and regional TV broadcasters to get a first dibs (and pay the most money for) popular television and films, CNET is reporting.

Netflix, however, is not resting and waiting for content to trickle its way. Last week, the company negotiated to obtain “House of Cards,” a new series from actor Kevin Spacey and director David Fincher. The agreement was a departure from Netflix’s typical licensing deals.

The series is expected to cost between $50 million $100 million for production and that may be a bit of a stretch for Netflix at this time. However the service is popular with the public and shows no signs of slowing yet so perhaps it is only a matter of time until Netflix has its own name in lights among the other Hollywood studios.

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