Programming from NBC (NSDQ: CMCSA) and some NBCUniversal cable networks will stay on Netflix (NSDQ: NFLX) under the terms of a new multi-year contract but Saturday Night Live will no longer be available for next-day viewing through the streaming service. Instead, it will be treated like 30 Rock or other current series: prior seasons only.
Fans who need that semi-quick fix of a Justin Timberlake skit, Kristin Wiig’s antics or the musical act of the week will still have options: Hulu, NBC.com, iTunes, or, if they pay for TV and their provider offers it, VOD.
Will it be available for free next-day streaming? That’s been the case until now but there’s always the chance that changes at Hulu could put next-day access in subscription Hulu Plus with free viewing moving to a week later. That means it would be delayed on NBC.com as well. Then again, it’s a broadcast network show available without a fee over the air. Some people may have problems because of signals but most can watch it live or record it free for their own time shifting.
This answers one question for prospective buyers of Hulu, the online video joint venture of NBCU, News Corp (NSDQ: NWS). and Disney: in-season streaming won;t be shared with Netflix anytime soon. NBCU is an equity partner in Hulu but the regulatory approval for the Comcast gaining control deal keeps it at arms length from Hulu. Its agreements will mirror those of Fox and Disney.
Otherwise, it’s good news for Netflix, which gets to show that it’s locked in some core programming at a time when it’s under fire for changing subscription plans and bumping up prices for some by 60 percent. It also locks in some Universal Pictures movies. It doesn’t include all NBC programming or all of the cable shows; we’re checking now on the status of USA‘s current series, for instance, but Warehouse 13 is covered. New hit The Voice, which just ended its first season, would make sense given the need to keep attention before its mid-year return but it’s not listed. In addition to 30 Rock and SNL, current NBC shows include The Office, Law & Order: SVU and Parenthood. Some shows are already off the air — Psych, The Event, Crossing Jordan; some are classics like Leave It To Beaver and Adam 12. All in, it’s more episodes from more NBCU shows than Netflix has now. No financial terms were disclosed and I’m not prepared to hazard a guess at this point.
The original deal dates back to 2007. It expanded last September to include next-day access to SNL and on-demand access for any SNL episode. The SNL deal suggested Netflix might wriggle its way in to airing current shows that would pit it more squarely in competition with Comcast, Time Warner Cable (NYSE: TWC) and others. Since then, Netflix CEO Reed Hastings has emphasized that his company shouldn’t be seen as a competitor with pay TV — and agreeing to this suggests that’s where Netflix will stay. For now. (Release.)