Netflix, Discovery in streaming deal for TV shows

Wed Sep 21, 2011 7:15pm EDT
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By Paul Thomasch

NEW YORK (Reuters) - Netflix Inc and Discovery Communications reached an agreement to bring episodes of popular TV adventure shows including "Man vs. Wild" and "River Monsters" to the streaming service, the companies confirmed on Wednesday.

The deal is the first major move by Discovery to make full episodes of its TV shows available for instant streaming, expanding well beyond the short clips that are now available on video sites such as YouTube

The two-year deal covers only material from prior seasons of the TV shows and is limited to Netflix subscribers in the United States. Discovery has an option for a third year.

Financial terms of the agreement could not be learned.

Home to some of the biggest hits on cable TV, Discovery Communications' networks include Discovery, TLC and Animal Planet, ID: Investigation Discovery, Science and Military Channel. But Chief Executive David Zaslav has long shied away from making full episodes of Discovery's shows available on the web, saying it failed to make economic sense.

Instead, he has chosen to use the web largely as a promotional tool to draw new viewers to its programs, while concentrating on expanding the TV business overseas.

The deal with Netflix, however, allows Discovery to sell a big chunk of its programing library, rather than just one or two of its recent hits. None of the content from Oprah Winfrey's OWN Network -- in which Discovery has a 50 percent stake -- has been included.

Under the deal, Netflix will also provide a search function that makes it possible for a customer to simply enter the words Discovery Communications into a search bar and get a list of all the available programs from TLC, Animal Planet or the other networks.   Continued...

<p>Netflix's Chief Executive Officer Reed Hastings speaks during an interview with Reuters in Buenos Aires September 7, 2011. REUTERS/Enrique Marcarian</p>