Peter Kafka

Recent Posts by Peter Kafka

Disney Double Dips: Renews Netflix Deal for ABC Shows, Adds Amazon

Another example of why the Web video boom is (currently) a great boon to Big TV: Disney has announced not one but two deals to sell digital copies of its reruns.

Disney has re-upped a two-year-old deal with Netflix to stream older shows that aired on ABC, ABC Family and the Disney Channel. And it announced what is essentially the same deal with Amazon, which will make the shows available via its Amazon Prime streaming service.

The Amazon deal also includes animated shows featuring Marvel characters, and it’s possible that the two deals have minor differences. The Netflix release, for instance, says that some shows that are still on the air — like “Grey’s Anatomy” — will be available 30 days after the last episode of each season runs on TV. There’s no reference to window length with Amazon.

But for the average Web video viewer, this stuff is going to mean the same thing: Both Amazon and Netflix are going to have a bunch of old ABC shows. A few of them will be programs that are still running on TV, but they’ll be from previous seasons, not this year’s reruns. And everything else will be even older.

That’s now the standard for most Big TV Web-video licensing deals. The networks and studios are quite happy to sell their shows to digital distributors, as long as they’re a bit musty.

It’s basically found money, and it will drop straight to Disney’s bottom line, just like equivalent deals at Comcast’s NBC, News Corp.’s Fox, etc. (News Corp. also owns this Web site).

And the networks are finding ways to sell the same stuff multiple times, like today’s pacts, or deals announced earlier this month to show CW Network shows on Netflix and Hulu, which (could) bring more than a $1 billion in new revenue to owners CBS and Time Warner.

The deals also show that Amazon continues to cut into the lead Netflix has built up in its Web video catalog. Netflix is moving toward an exclusivity strategy, where it pays a premium for stuff you’re not going to be find anywhere else on the Web. But it can’t fill its 20,000-title catalog with exclusives alone. And in this deal, at least, it doesn’t appear to have carved out any exclusives at all.

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