Showtime and Netflix have cut a new deal that will see currently running shows like Dexter and Californication taken off of Netflix come summer. But what Showtime taketh away, they also giveth. The new deal penned between the two companies gives Netflix license on all show from Showtime that are no longer in active runs say Variety. However, I still think it’s a deal not unlike some Swiss Cheese in that, it smells.Showtime is working out its own streaming service Showtime Anytime which they launched in October and currently ties into ComCast’s A statement on the deal said, “Current and past seasons of our original series will be available to our authenticated subscribers via our TV Everywhere service Showtime Anytime. A number of Showtime original series will continue to be available and stream on Netflix including ‘The Tudors’ and ‘Sleeper Cell.'” The Showtime Anytime is only available to Showtime Subscribers which makes it even more lame.

One Step Forward, Two Back – The streaming content tango

The new deal is a major step backwards, for Showtime, as those of us who like some of their shows but don’t want to subscribe to their whole offering will now be forced to have multiple accounts to get their content where in the past we just went to Netflix.

This is not in response to Netflix licensing first-run original content House of Cards, but I do believe it’s going to make Netflix start pushing more and more into that area. This is probably the beginning of a trend where broadcasters will all try to make their own deals with cable operators to get their content out to the masses. That might not be a bad deal, if you’re a cable subscriber. But most of these services are only available to users of a particular cable system and it leaves out the rest of us who don’t subscribe to cable.

I smell a rat in the boardroom

Perhaps it’s a conspiracy since places like HBO and Showtime made their names by being subscription only channels on cable and so to continue raking in the money hand over fist they’re cutting a deal with the cable operators in hopes of preventing people from cutting the cable.

By running their own service they are attempting to remain in the loop, desperately clinging to the past and trying to stay relevant in the modern world of online television. However, they should then frown upon the practice of bandwidth capping because it might further limit their audience. This is certainly a money issue for Showtime. They put out billions for content and then take in billions on subscriptions. With the landscape shifting and people wanting to get their content anytime, anywhere online they have to find some way to tap into that market as we will probably watch less and less of the shows they want us to watch at the times they air them.

My Case for the Netflix Solution

Netflix was the perfect answer when they started their streaming subscription, but it seems that the content suppliers disagree and want to rake in all the dough they can on their new content. Still, they’re not able to see the big picture which is that many of us don’t want 15 accounts in order to get our content. Some of us, like myself, will simply stop watching it or wait until it all goes to DVD and then rent it from Netflix anyway. That means they’ll lose a chance to get my cash. Haha suckers!

The cable operators on the other hand should be smarter. They offer us these crap packages of content that we don’t want but have to get in order to get other premium channels, then start capping the bandwidth we use, trying to lock us into their own programming all while blocking access to services like Google TV. Anyone else feel like they actually hate us?

Perhaps they should take a more consumer-friendly approach and start offering us more flexible packages that include online access to our content. But that won’t work because if you have Comcast and then visit a friend who has Time Warner, they will most likely block access to the Comcast site because they don’t want you to suck up bandwidth and view content from another cable operator.

This is the reason that Netflix is the perfect solution. It was cable company agnostic, aggregated great content from a variety of sources and is low-cost and easy to use, all the things that we want from a video streaming service for entertainment. The broadcasters and cable operators still don’t understand that we want what we want, when we want it and anywhere we want it. They all have these mega-control fixations over everything and we just want to have more control over our own viewing, so until they realize that there will be an eternal power struggle between the digital consumers and the power-hungry cable operators and broadcasters.

I commented on Jeremy’s article about Netflix buying House of Cards, in regards to just how brilliant that move was. Here’s what I said:

It’s a brilliant move by Netflix. This is the “get on board or get left behind” moment for the studios. Since some of them were starting to shy away from Netflix, it looks like big Red took it upon themselves to cut out the middleman.

Why pay someone, who paid someone to make something when you can just pay the creator and skip the middle guy right? It makes perfect sense. Now, instead of HBO or Showtime selling the rights to Netflix…they can sell the rights to HBO or Showtime.

Not only do they then have exclusive rights to streaming (because I’m sure that would be how they form the contract), the broadcaster would be paying them to get the show on their channel. Netflix, turns the tables and becomes the middle man getting money from two sides (subscribers and broadcast rights) instead of paying much higher number for the rights to stream from the broadcaster who is trying to recoup overhead on their purchase of the show’s rights.

I can also see this working like this.

Production company A has show B. They offer Netflix exclusive streaming rights for X dollars and they then cut a broadcast deal with channel C for X dollars. That would be far trickier as Netflix and the broadcaster would have to hash out a release schedule. Ideally, Netflix would be able to start streaming the show at the same time as it is first aired on the broadcast channel. Then, if say you miss the airing of the show, you can flip over to Netflix and start watching it…even if it’s just two hours later. Or, even cooler, if you want to watch it again.

Really, Netflix should cut a deal with cable companies and in itself become the broadcaster with an actual Netflix channel. Perhaps that’s the plan. Be both video-on-demand Internet streaming service and, eventually, have a Netflix channel included in cable TV…or perhaps 2 channels, one for film and one for TV and just start airing all that stuff they are now beginning to buy the rights to.

They can then effectively cut studios out of their supply chain. Or, perhaps cut certain deals with studios that provide them with both TV and film (we won’t air your TV shows on our cable channels if we can air your films on our other cable channel). Then, when Showtime comes to Netflix asking for broadcast rights, Netflix might snub them… remember that SHO when you go ask them for new content that you really want to air on your channel.

Yes, very wise move indeed Netflix. When I get back to the States I am defo going to be a streaming subscriber.

So Go Go NetFlixer! There they go, there goes Netflixer, they’re a demon on streams… (Speed Racer anyone?) Love my awesome Photoshop skills right?

Kung Pao! I’m out!

Hey, if you’re Netflix or Netflix PR, please email me, I would love to speak with you about a wide variety of things.