Mailbag: Could Netflix Save 'Fringe'?

Categories: 1-Featured,New TV Technology

Written By

December 17th, 2010

I was disappointed to read that DirecTV claims to be out of the “save our show” business after saving Friday Night Lights and Damages.  Do you think Netflix might take DirecTV's place as the go-to place for fans of low-rated shows to focus their “save our show” attempts.  Could Netflix save Fringe?

Sean
Los Angeles, CA

Interesting question! It’s possible Netflix might save a show SOMEDAY.  But I don’t think that day will be anytime soon. And there is almost no chance Netflix would save Fringe should it be canceled at the end of this season (which seems likely).

There are a lot of studios that still hold back a lot of content that is not made available for streaming on Netflix, and Warner Bros (which produces Fringe) is a notorious holdout. You can’t stream old episodes from any season of Warner Bros most popular shows like  Two and a Half Men and The Big Bang Theory.  And even past seasons of many of its less popular shows like, well,  Fringe are not available for instant streaming on Netflix.

I doubt Warner Bros will change that approach soon because there are still boatloads of cash in the syndication for those shows that brings in much more than Netflix would pay them.  So there’s no reason yet for Warner Bros to do anything that might diminish those shows’ value in syndication.    I can’t see Warner Bros budging on that soon, and I can’t see Netflix even thinking about reanimating Fringe unless Warner Bros made all of its popular shows available for Netflix streaming.

I think it’s too soon in general for Netflix to be saving any show for the marketing value. The economics just don’t work.  While many people watch content online, even most of those people prefer watching on a TV.  Though it is possible to stream Netflix on your TV (and personally, that’s how I watch most of my Netflix streaming), it requires a new TV that has that built in or other hardware like a gaming console or a Roku box.  It also requires a decent Internet connection, and for most people good WiFi.    In general, the barrier to watching Netflix on a TV is still perceived to be pretty high for most people.

That’s sure to change in the coming years and someday it will be easy for most people to watch Netflix on their TVs.  At that point, assuming Netflix is still going strong, I could see them at least considering saving a show for marketing purposes.

 
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