Netflix and The CW are close to finalizing a megabucks new deal covering scripted series that significantly speeds up the availability of the shows to less than two weeks after each season ends on the network.
The expanded pact with Netflix comes as The CW and Hulu are parting ways on the deal that made selected current episodes of CW series available for streaming on a rolling-five basis. The network first set its streaming deals with Netflix and Hulu in 2011. Those deals were crucial to shoring up the future of The CW five years ago, and now the expanded Netflix pact is a testament to the network’s improved performance.
With the Hulu deal ending, in-season streaming access to CW series will flow through the advertising-supported CWTV.com website and app as well as its affiliate stations’ VOD deals with various providers. In-season access will remain limited to a rolling-five most recent episodes, in most cases.
Reps for The CW, Hulu and Netflix declined comment. The CW-Netflix deal is expected to be unveiled later this week.
The limited access to episodes was the big sticking point for Hulu, which is said to have pushed The CW to offer full stacking rights — access to the full season, in other words — on its Hulu service as a condition of renewing the deal. Hulu and CW parent companies CBS and Warner Bros. negotiated on and off for months, but late last week the sides formally ended the discussions. The existing deal is believed to expire in early October.
Netflix, meanwhile, has stepped up the financial terms of its output deal in order to speed up the arrival of the shows on the SVOD giant. Previously, CW series came to Netflix after a months-long wait, usually timed to land a week or two before the start of a new season for continuing series.
The total pricetag of the deal is tricky to estimate for Netflix because it involves so many shows and variables such as escalators that kick in depending on how long a series has been on the air and how it performs. But it is sure to rank as one of the largest output deals in the SVOD arena to date with value that could exceed $1 billion.
The deal is believed to run five years, with a tail that gives Netflix access to the CW library for several years after each series ends its run on the network. The deal covers domestic rights to the shows, not the vast expanse of Netflix’s worldwide footprint. It also marks the closest window Netflix has ever secured to the in-season period for primetime entertainment series.