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Netflix's Landmark Deal with Disney Revolutionizes Way We Think About TV Content

Photo of Beth Hanna By Beth Hanna | Thompson on Hollywood December 6, 2012 at 4:18PM

Following Netflix's landmark pact with Disney on December 4, a three-year output deal that gives the streaming company exclusive access to the live-action and animated features of Disney, Pixar, Marvel and Lucasfilm, chief content officer Ted Sarandos states that he's eyeing similar deals with Warner Bros., and possibly Sony and Universal.
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Harvey Weinstein, left, and Ted Sarandos, right
Harvey Weinstein, left, and Ted Sarandos, right

Following Netflix's landmark pact with Disney on December 4, a three-year output deal that gives the streaming company exclusive access to the live-action and animated features of Disney, Pixar, Marvel and Lucasfilm, chief content officer Ted Sarandos states that he's eyeing similar deals with Warner Bros., and possibly Sony and Universal.

Harvey Weinstein commented during a December 5 UBS media conference that Netflix's savvy deal is highly enviable, as it gives the company total dominance over the animation space. It's "the biggest content deal probably in the history of our business," and marks the first time a Hollywood studio has chosen Netflix over a traditional TV network.

Sarandos has outlined his continued plan for Netflix, which will stay away from sports and anything lending itself to live-viewing as opposed to on-demand. In doing so, he's attempting to decrease the value of ads, ratings and hallowed time slots for airing.

Indeed, he has ambitious plans to revolutionize the way we think about TV content, as laid out at the December 5 conference. First, ratings won't be considered king. As Netflix launches two original content shows in February, the much-anticipated "Arrested Development" and the sleek David Fincher-Kevin Spacey collaboration "House of Cards," no numbers will be released for either show, regardless of popularity. When TOH! asked Sarandos about the massively overbudgeted "House of Cards," for which two seasons have been ordered, he seemed nonchalant about the numbers. It's about successfully competing with the cable companies for content.

Netflix has something the cable companies don't. It doesn't mess with the ancillary windows that prevent viewers from getting what they want when they want.

And viewers want instant gratification -- no waiting for new episodes. In a bold move, Netflix will be releasing the entire seasons of its original content at once. A veteran of the DVD business, the company knows that many folks love to watch a show's complete season. Apparently show creators love this too, as it cuts down on the need for recapping last week's episode. "Previously on" is a thing of the past, if Netflix has its way.

This article is related to: News, Netflix, Harvey Weinstein, News, Ted Sarandos


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Thompson on Hollywood

Born and raised in Manhattan, Anne Thompson grew up going to the Thalia and The New Yorker and wound up at grad Cinema Studies at NYU. She worked at United Artists and Film Comment before heading west as that magazine's west coast editor. She wrote for the LA Weekly, Sight and Sound, Empire, The New York Times and Entertainment Weekly before serving as West Coast Editor of Premiere. She wrote for The Washington Post, The London Observer, Wired, More, and Vanity Fair, and did staff stints at The Hollywood Reporter and Variety. She eventually took her blog Thompson on Hollywood to Indiewire. She taught film criticism at USC Critical Studies, and continues to host the fall semester of “Sneak Previews” for UCLA Extension.