Netflix Stirs NBCU Cable Series Into Streaming Mix

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Beefing up the menu for would-be cable-cutters, Netflix and NBC Universal Domestic Television Distribution inked an expanded license agreement under which Netflix subscribers will for the first time get instant, on-demand access to several past USA Network and Syfy series.

The multiyear deal, which goes into effect next week, builds on the previous deal struck between Netflix and NBCU in 2007 covering shows from the broadcast network.

The deal continues Netflix's push to grow the Internet streaming options available to its more than 15 million customers, who today primarily rent DVDs through the mail. Netflix CEO Reed Hastings, in a post on the company's blog Thursday, said the company is looking at adding a streaming-only option in the U.S. "over the coming months" as it does in Canada.

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Last month Netflix signed a five-year deal reportedly worth about $1 billion with Epix, the movie-channel venture of Paramount Pictures, MGM and Lionsgate, to be able to stream movies 90 days after the premiere on the linear TV channel.

Netflix also has streaming agreements for cable TV content with MTV Networks, Showtime Networks, Starz Entertainment, Walt Disney Co. and Warner Bros. Home Entertainment Group.

NBCU's expanded deal with Netflix includes:

• All prior seasons of USA Network's Monk, Psych and In Plain Sight;

• More than 75 prior season episodes of Syfy's Battlestar Galactica, and past seasons of the network's Destination Truth and Eureka;

• Episodes of Saturday Night Live available the day after air for the upcoming 2010, 2011 and 2012 seasons plus several hundred older episodes;

• Every episode from the last season of NBC's 30 Rock, The Office and Law & Order: SVU, as well as earlier seasons of those shows renewed for streaming from Netflix under the current deal; and

• All prior seasons of Friday Night Lights, the drama about high-school football in a small Texas town, and eventually next year's final season.

"We are very pleased to continue our successful relationship with Netflix," Frances Manfredi, NBC Universal Domestic TV Distribution executive vice president and general sales manager of cable and non-theatrical sales, said in announcing the pact. "We applaud Netflix for recognizing the value of content like SNL, Friday Night Lights, Monk and Battlestar Galactica to their subscribers."

Added Netflix chief content officer Ted Sarandos, "This agreement adds meaningfully to the wide variety of content that can be streamed from Netflix and breaks new ground in our relationship with NBC Universal."

Netflix's "Watch Instantly" Internet-streaming feature is available via more than 100 devices, including personal computers, iPhones and iPads, TiVo DVRs, Microsoft Xbox 360 game consoles, Sony PlayStation 3s, Nintendo Wiis and broadband-connected TVs from Sony, Samsung Electronics, LG Electronics and others.

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