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New Showtime-Netflix deal excludes 'Dexter,' 'Californication' and other new shows

Showtime Networks is joining those in Hollywood wary of Netflix.

A week after Netflix said it was jumping into the business of original programming, another potential competitor -- premium cable channel Showtime -- changed the ground rules for dealing with the fast-growing movie and TV show rental service.

DexterShowtime said Tuesday that its newly negotiated deal with Netflix, which takes effect this summer, no longer includes online streaming rights to its currently airing first-run series, such as "Dexter" and "Californication."  

When the new agreement kicks in, episodes of those shows will disappear from Netflix and will be offered exclusively on Showtime's online service.

"A number of Showtime original series will continue to be available and stream on Netflix including 'The Tudors' and 'Sleeper Cell,' among others," Showtime said in a statement, referring to programs that have gone off the air.

This is a significant departure from Showtime's current arrangement with Netflix, which expires this summer. Under that pact, the cable channel provided several seasons of "Dexter" and "Californication" to Netflix in an effort to introduce its signature shows to a wider audience.

When TV networks and studios first made deals with Netflix a few years ago, the Los Gatos company was considered an innocuous movie rental service much like the corner Blockbuster store. But now that Netflix has more than 20 million customers and its Internet streaming is more broadly accessible, the television industry is increasingly viewing Netflix as a deep-pocket rival that could eventually supplant cash-cow premium cable channels.

Showtime's chief rival, Time Warner Inc.'s HBO, has been particularly uncooperative, holding back all of its new television shows and movies. The smaller Starz and Epix premium channels, meanwhile, currently provide their movies and original programs, such as "Spartacus."

Showtime decided to clamp down on the rights to its first-run programs in an effort to use them as bait to sign up and retain subscribers. (Showtime doesn't control the rights to its popular series "Weeds," which is owned by Lionsgate.) 

CBS Corp.-owned Showtime still sees a role for Netflix -- as a digital syndication outlet for older product.  Last month, CBS similarly announced a $200-million deal with Netflix to distribute such classic CBS-owned shows as "Frasier," "Cheers," "Twin Peaks" and "The Twilight Zone." 

If people want to watch recent Showtime programs online, they must pay for the channel. "Current and past seasons of our original series will be available to our authenticated subscribers via our TV Everywhere service Showtime Anytime," the company said in a statement.

Asked to comment on the move, a Netflix spokesman said, "We have a great relationship with CBS licensing content from all of its channels, including Showtime, and we continue to negotiate for more movies and shows."


Is Netflix building a 'House of Cards' in original programming?

-- Meg James

Ben Fritz contributed to this report.

Photo: "Dexter" star Michael C. Hall. Credit: Randy Tepper / Showtime Networks

Comments () | Archives (17)

I don't understand this point of view at all. I can just go rent them from a video store or video kiosk outisde of my grocery store, I will also be paying for netflix already and will not pay another site for a small amount of exclusive content. Whats the big deal show time. People are going to give netflix their money anyway if your going to be dicks I won't be giving you mine.

Once again the old school media shoots itself in the foot. Those who don't need nor want anything from Showtime but Dexter will turn to other outlets... one whose coffers will not flow into theirs. No wonder the Obama admin has been pushing to make "illegal" streaming a felony!

Cable and so-called premium channels have been resisting change for neigh on 20 years. Let the implosion begin!

I have no intention of paying for a Showtime subscription when I only watch a couple of their shows. I can wait for the discs to be available on Netflix (like I will do with the latest season of Dexter) if they aren't available for streaming. Similarly with True Blood on HBO. I also don't subscribe to any pay TV outlet: no cable, satellite, or fiber optic (U-verse or FiOS). I watch what's available on Netflix, either on disc or streaming, and whatever is available on PlayOn. For everything on network TV, I have an antenna for my HDTV, and I can watch that programming for free. I basically pay only $20 a month (Netflix) for television programming plus movies.

I only pay $7.99 per month for Netflix and watch hulu.com for free. I have an antenna so I can watch the local channels. I cut out cable and now have an additional $150 in my pocket. What do I need from Showtime? Nothing. I might start doing what my daughter does and watch all the shows on youtube.

Well let's see... the shows I didn't pirate from Showtime were on NetFlix and the ones that did pirate weren't.... Hmmmm... what's going to happen when they kill more shows????

Finally some of the content holders are showing some brains. Sure there will be more piracy but there are some people willing to pay for content as well... if you continue to cave in to people threatening to pirate pretty soon there will be no one left to pay for the costs of the show. Do we want to end up watching only cheap reality shows? If AT&T imposes gigabyte caps people will be able to bootleg low def streams but the studios and networks can still make money off of high def in the future. If you continue to listen to people whine about how they can't steal content anymore...we are destined to a future of homemade entertainment.

I can live without Dexter and the others. I take the most basic cable (local channels plus a few others - not even C-Span or USA) and certainly cannot afford premium channels. This decision just keeps me from viewing these shows. With the economy continuing to tank, I guess I'll be reading more.

Ridiculous. So, this wonderful new technology, now means that i have to pay a monthly subscription to Netflix, and a monthly subscription to Hulu, and a monthly subscription to Showtime, and the cable bill, and... These measures are gonna backfire sooner than later. People will not pay 6 different subscriptions to watch movies and tv.

These big media guys need to grow up. What the heck are they scared of? Netflix is a much better company to its customers and providers than Comcast.

I see showtime is letting comcast customers view via xfinity.tv ot fancast or whatever they decide to call it tomorrow. Comcast has one goal: Comcast. They dont even care for their own customers. Right now they maybe playing nice to beat netflix. But once they solidify their position much further, they will stomp everyone out. And everyone will come back to netflix. Showtime wants to alienate 20 milllion customers of netflix for what?

But as someone already noted, I am not going to go sign up on a bunch of sites to see their programming. I will continue to stay with netflix and watch they have to offer. No, as a result of this deal I am not signing up for showtime, no not to comcast, no to hbo. Worst case, I rent the disc from netflix.

I agree everyone has to make money and Netflix is paying top dollar for all the shows they want.

What Showtime doesn't offer is a way to get Showtime without the massively over-priced cable tv cost. There's currently no way for customers to get just Showtime, whereas there is a way to just get Netflix. Lame. I was a fan of Dexter first season, but when I canceled my cable tv to go online and Netflix, then bye bye Dexter. Too bad.

Hmm, I guess it's time to cancel my subscription to Showtime. I'm not giving up access to an entire library of movies and content so that Showtime can try to bully me out of the same amount of money to watch 2 shows.

Television wars stink. And who needs to watch that kind of cutthroat drama? Showtime is worthless. Even when offered for free for 3 mos there was nothing on there worth watching. All this oneupmanship is not in the favor of the viewer, obviously.

What happened to my comment? I made a post about how the Showtime decision is in line with HBO's even greater stinginess regarding third parties streaming their new content.

But will Netflix at least have Dexter available on DVD?

20 million members paying 8 dollars a month = 108 X 20mil roughly 1.9 billion dollars. Taking a quick glance at an already deflated home video sales chart...Toy Story 3 and Despicable Me sold 300 million dollars worth of dvds in a dying market!! This means that 2 titles in the obsolete dvd business made almost the same amount of money as one sixth of NFLX streaming model could generate with 20,000 titles. Do you see how delusional it is to believe that going forward this new paradigm will be able to produce even a fraction of the revenue necessary to make quality content? Of course people love NFLX because it's only the tiniest fraction of a notch better than piracy. In fact I'm fairly sure when NFLX negotiated their terms they frightened the studios into giving away all their old content by saying it's better to make pennies on the dollar instead of zero from pirates...but all the studios did was accelerate the pace of their demise by acclimating the public to streaming and cannibalizing their sell through business for some cheap upfront cash.
The studios need to stop devaluating their product and hope law enforcement can make some minor headway with closing pirate sites and hope the ISPs continue their efforts to put data caps on heavy usage. By playing hardball with NFLX upfront they will lose money in the beginning but in the long run if they stream their shows themselves for a reasonable price they can reestablish some value for their shows instead of fluffing up their bottom line for the sake of one quarterly statement.

Mike is making alot of comments about how Netflix is "devaluing content", but you know the studios were never obligated to sign such deals with Netflix in the first place.

And I like how you bring up "Toy Story" and "Despicable Me"'s" profits as some proof of "quality content"; sure they'are great for children, but i'm a grown ADULT and frankly any of the junk Hollywood is serving my way, be it Transformers, GI Joe, Spider-Man, or whatever silly nonsense they are factory-churning out, their gargantuan budgets don't make up for PLOT and STORY.

Netflix is great because of the massive amount of older films where such things still matter, plus alot of quality Criterion, Independent and foreign releases. You whine about studios "giving away" their library, but alot of these old titles were never profitable anymore to begin with except as syndicated programming and now they are finding new revenue life.

Frankly I could care less if studios want to make me wait 3-6 months for a new DVD title or series to hit netflix, the price I save a month is worth the wait, I don't have a "gotta see it now!" mentality like a teenager.

Michael, I don't blame NFLX for what happened... they have a visionary and clever management team that has run circles around the studios and network executives. I think they did what was right for themselves and their stockholders and their customers have benefitted tremendously. My point is that most people think NFLX 8 dollars a month is enough to generate future content and this is simply not true. For someone like you that doesn't care about new content...NFLX is a Godsend and I don't blame you for supporting them...but for anyone that doesn't want to primarily watch old films and shows...the old paradigm is much better for financing future projects. If they never made a film again you could watch two titles a day for fifty years and never run out of quality shows. But for those of us that like to see new films...NFLX must be cut out of the new content business or they will not make enough money to continue making shows.


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