We've got good news for Netflix subscribers: your viewing choices are about to get wider. Studios that have previously kept their shows to themselves are starting to license to Netflix again – and while they're not giving away their crown jewels, there are still going to be some welcome additions.
As The New York Times reports [paywall], studios including Disney and Warner Bros. Discovery are softening their no-Netflix stances. They're not going to be licensing shows like Game of Thrones or the Star Wars movies to Netflix, but series such as Young Sheldon and blockbuster movies including Dune and Prometheus are being sent to the streamer in exchange for cash.
This seems like a win-win-win situation. Netflix gets more movies and shows, which makes its offering more compelling. Studios get more money. And we get more choice on the best streaming service.
What's with the studios' change of strategy?
As you know, back in the early days of streaming it felt like Netflix had absolutely everything. Chances were, if a show or movie was available to stream, it was available to stream from Netflix. But then many studios had a change of heart and decided that they'd much rather have their own separate streaming services, so they started keeping their shows to themselves.
Several years on, it seems that that might not have been the best strategy. As The New York Times points out, "most streaming services don't make money" and Netflix has more than double the subscribers of Warner Bros. Discovery's Max. So rather than keep all their content to themselves, studios are increasingly open to licensing it to rivals too.
The publication goes on to say that some of the best Disney Plus shows including Prison Break, This Is Us, How I Met Your Mother, Lost and more in the coming months. This isn't the only licensing deal Netflix has – it currently has limited licenses for movies from Sony Pictures and Universal Pictures – and the deals won't necessarily be exclusive to Netflix either. Many titles will also be available on Amazon and the Disney-owned Hulu.
One interesting detail in The New York Times piece is that for the time being at least, all of this traffic is one-way. While Netflix makes its own shows and movies, it doesn't have a licensing division and doesn't have any plans to start one. According to CEO Ted Sarandos: "I do think that we can add tremendous value when we license content. [But] I'm not positive that it's reciprocal."
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Writer, broadcaster, musician and kitchen gadget obsessive Carrie Marshall (Twitter) has been writing about tech since 1998, contributing sage advice and odd opinions to all kinds of magazines and websites as well as writing more than a dozen books. Her memoir, Carrie Kills A Man, is on sale now. She is the singer in Glaswegian rock band HAVR.