Netflix makes deal with frenemy Time Warner

The new deal includes shows from Cartoon Network, TNT, and more

Financial trends and news by Faith Merino
January 14, 2013
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It looks like the on-again/off-again relationship between Netflix and Time Warner is…on again. The companies announced a new deal Monday that will give Netflix access to past seasons of TV shows from the Warner Bros. Group and Turner Broadcasting.

To recap, Netflix and Time Warner are not BFFs. Over the past two years, Time Warner CEO Jeff Bewkes has mixed all sorts of metaphors to mock Netflix, from likening it to the Albanian army taking over the world, to calling it a “200 pound chimp” (?), to delivering the most beautifully garbled and confusing insult/compliment ever: “It can fly; it’s not a submarine. Don’t turn a hamburger into a cow.” That’s right, Netflix. You got served.

So it was surprising in late 2011 when Netflix made a deal with Time Warner to get past seasons of CW shows like The Vampire Diaries and Gossip Girl.

Today’s deal means Netflix can now show past seasons of shows from Cartoon Network, Warner Bros. Animation, Adult Swim, Sony Pictures Television, and TNT. Netflix subscribers can now see past seasons of Johnny Bravo, Green Lantern, Robot Chicken, Aqua Teen Hunger Force, Children’s Hospital, and the new version of TNT’s Dallas, which is being hailed as marginally cooler than the old version. That’s actually not true. No one is calling Dallas cool. Even Netflix’s Chief Content Officer Ted Sarandos can’t call Dallas cool—calling it, instead, “one of the greatest all-time guilty pleasures.”

Time Warner isn’t really sacrificing anything for the deal. Bewkes previously remarked that the old reruns that Internet TV services like Netflix and Hulu are showing are “archival content nobody would want in Blockbuster.” In other words, if Netflix is willing to pay for leftovers that have been sucked dry of any nutritive value, Time Warner is happy to take its money.

"The industry has evolved so that TV Everywhere and subscription video on-demand services can coexist with the appropriate windowing strategy, while allowing for more content flexibility to meet consumer demand in the changing digital landscape," said Turner Broadcasting’s SVP of program acquisitions Deborah K. Bradley, in a much more diplomatic statement. "We're happy to offer our popular programming to Netflix members, as SVOD services have become another way to grow audiences and can introduce new viewers to our programming."


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