Peter Kafka

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Netflix Adds More Disney/ABC Shows–But Not the Ones You Missed Last Night

Here’s the latest addition to the Netflix streaming video catalog: More TV shows from Disney and its ABC network.

But don’t expect to use Netflix to watch shows that aired last night, or even in the last few weeks or months. In most cases, Netflix is adding shows that are a year old or more.

And in the case of the handful of shows that Netflix does run in the same season they appear on TV, it is increasing the “window” between their air date and the time they show up on the company’s streaming service.

Netflix previously had the ability to stream some Disney Channel shows, like “Wizards of Waverly Place,” the day after they aired. But now it will wait 15 days to run them, says Netflix content boss Ted Sarandos. The flip side: Netflix will get access to other Disney/ABC-owned shows that it hasn’t had in the past, like “Scrubs,” and in some cases it will get a deeper catalog, like more episodes of “Lost.”

Which makes this deal similar to other deals Netflix has cut in the past year with movie studios like Sony and Time Warner’s Warner Bros. for their offerings: Netflix writes a big check and agrees to wait longer to distribute some content, in exchange for the rights to more content, overall.

So what if you want to watch TV shows that ran last night? There are plenty of other places to get that, like Hulu, Apple’s iTunes or video-on-demand offerings from cable providers.

“Day-after broadcast is not core to our strategy. We’re not in that business, particularly,” Sarandos says. “I highly value completeness over freshness. For our customers, it’s much more about being able to watch the entire run of a show, as it is about being able to see time-shifted episodes.”

Translation: Hey Hollywood and TV executives! Don’t believe what you hear and read–we don’t want to blow up your existing distribution models. We just want to write you big checks for stuff after you’re done with it.

Earlier this fall, Netflix announced a similar deal with GE’s NBC, and Sarandos says he thinks his agreement with News Corp.’s Fox is fairly robust (News Corp. also owns this Web site).

Which means we should expect to see something from CBS down the pipe, too, right? “We’re constantly in talks” with other content owners, Sarandos says.

Translation: Hey Les Moonves! We’re no Google. How much do you want for “The Mentalist”?


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