Netflix (s NFLX) is adding more content to its streaming library in Canada, striking a deal with Paramount Pictures (s VIA) for first-run access to movies in the pay TV window. That means rather than having movies like Iron Man 2 and The Last Airbender show up on cable channels in Canada, they will appear exclusively on Netflix’s streaming service instead.
Canadian Netflix subscribers, who up to this point haven’t had nearly as much content to choose from as their U.S. counterparts, get a wide range of new titles to choose from. The five-year deal will give Netflix access to 350 films, including new releases, cult classics like Wayne’s World and library titles like Terms of Endearment. That’s good news for the company’s Canadian offering, which launched with 7,500 titles, compared to more than 20,000 available to U.S.-based subscribers. But it also represents Netflix’s growing interest in having access to exclusive streaming content.
Netflix has long relied on some premium cable networks — like Starz and Epix — to license streaming titles, but the subscription video company is increasingly going straight to the studios to get first-run access to their movies. Last year, Netflix struck its first such deal with indie film distributor Relativity Media, giving it access to movies like The Fighter ahead of networks like HBO (s TWX) and Showtime. (s CBS) It’s also getting into original programming, with a deal to license 26 episodes of the upcoming TV drama House of Cards, which will star Kevin Spacey and be produced by David Fincher. In other words, rather than relying on cable networks for its content, Netflix is beginning to look like an online cable network itself.
Netflix will likely need to do more deals like this, especially as cable networks are increasingly pulling back the amount of content available through the streaming service. Showtime, for instance, will reportedly pull current TV shows like Dexter and Californication from Netflix’s streaming library, although shows that are no longer in production — like The Tudors — will still be available. And Starz, which up until this point has made its original scripted shows available on Netflix the day after they air, is adding a 90-day window before they are available online.
Interestingly, many of the Paramount titles cited in the press release and blog post are available in the U.S. through Netflix’s streaming deal with premium cable network Epix. That company was founded by Paramount, Lionsgate (s LGF) and MGM, and has rights to pay TV and streaming access for titles from those studios in the U.S., but not in Canada.