Netflix should be forever known in the streaming world as “The Great Changer.” It truly was the service that shook up the cable industry and gave birth to the cord-cutter movement – a group of (mostly) young adults who were forgoing traditional cable in favor of streaming services.
When Netflix began streaming major network shows, the industry saw it as a cheap and profitable alternative to DVDs, which had been slipping in sales for several years. Networks were clamoring to get their shows on the streaming service so they could reach more people and – in the end – make some more money. Now, it seems a lot of industry professionals are starting to regret those early decisions.
As media streaming has become more relevant, more and more networks are jumping at the opportunity to reach their audiences while retaining the rights to their content. Some major networks, including AMC and ESPN already offer streaming services or offer the service for free in conjunction with a cable subscription.
Some networks, though, are having trouble getting the rights back. Popular shows like “Supernatural” and “The Office” are wrapped up in a legal loophole that lets Netflix hold onto the rights for the shows for years after the shows leave the air. Even Disney, who are launching their own streaming service, will have many of their movies and shows return to Netflix in 2026.
This shows some savvy foresight by Netflix and its team of lawyers. Now, many of those contracts can still be re-negotiated, but as it stands, Netflix definitely has the upper hand.
Studios license their material for a number of reasons. Blockbusters like Star Wars and the Marvel movies license material to produce toys, video games and other promotional materials. It generally helps box office sales and the studios get a cut of the third-party profit. Some studios even license their movies (or likenesses) for online entertainment. Aspers Casino offers, for example, has slot games based on the Game of Thrones franchise, Vikings TV series and Jumanji film. That’s not all, though: they offer all kinds of promotions and offers for new players, from deposit matches and bonuses to loyalty points, which all means further publicity for the original production.
Netflix really rose to prominence because of these licensing deals. The company originally offered older movies that would ship as physical copies to your house. When you were done watching the film, you would send it back and Netflix would send you the next movie on your queue – archaic, compared to the streaming structure of today.
When the company launched its streaming service, it started with a few major licensed shows and added more from there. Then the company started introducing its own content with shows like “Orange is the New Black”. The company’s popularity has only grown from there and several of its shows have won Grammys and several shows have been nominated for Acadamy Awards. In 2018, Netflix very briefly became more valuable than Disney.
The streaming wars are more brutal than ever, especially with Disney+ coming into the mix later this year. However, Netflix has proven it always has the future in mind and it still has a head start on the competition. It should be an interesting few years for streaming services.