Original content finally came of age in the video-streaming realm last year, and Netflix is continuing briskly on that path in 2016.
The on-demand entertainment company has announced an expansion of its partnership with DreamWorks Animation, the U.S. studio responsible for well-known franchises such as Kung Fu Panda, Shrek, and Madagascar. The extension of its existing multiyear deal, which was signed back in 2013 to give Netflix exclusive access to 300 hours of programming, will see a myriad of original content added to its slate as well as the streaming rights to DreamWorks’ existing feature film library.
Later this year, Netflix will become the home for a number of new DreamWorks Animation shows — this incudes a reworking of the classic animation series Voltron, as well as a new series from renowned Mexican filmmaker Guillermo del Toro called Trollhunters, which features a “fantastical world wrapped around two best friends who make a startling discovery beneath their hometown.” Other fresh shows will be developed specifically for DreamWorks Animation over the course of their partnership.
This move perhaps should come as little surprise, given Netflix’s increasing focus on serving up content not available elsewhere. Back in August, the company announced that it would not renew its agreement with the cable network Epix, meaning subscribers would no longer be able to watch titles such as Hunger Games, World War Z, and Transformers. Why? Netflix explained that “they are also widely available on cable and other subscription platforms at the same time as they are on Netflix.”
However, perhaps the most notable facet of the latest DreamWorks deal is that it applies to Netflix’s 50+ markets globally, which again ties in with the company’s plan to negotiate rights holistically rather than taking a laborious piecemeal “market by market” approach. Netflix has previously stated that it plans to be in 200 or so markets by the end of 2016 — whether it achieves this or not remains to be seen, but for it to achieve true scale, it has to take a global approach when negotiating rights. Netflix’s chief content officer Ted Sarandos previously discussed the company’s efforts to buy the rights for shows in multiple regions at once, but the company has faced hurdles along the way.
“I don’t know if it is more difficult than expected, but it has not been an easy road,” explained Sarandos during a recent investors’ call. “All of the studios and networks have situated themselves to be regional sellers. They have never been global sellers, and it makes complete sense that Sony and Disney and Warner Brothers would have regional sales teams. Now we are global buyers and buying global rights to shows and movies, and there is some resistance to it, mostly from the regional sellers, people who are in charge of regional selling, who don’t want their jobs marginalized.”
In short, Netflix is vying for clear differentiators from the likes of Amazon Video and Hulu. It wants as much original or exclusive content as possible, and it wants the rights to stream them globally. The DreamWorks deal represents another step in that direction.