Netflix’s Next Big Business: Saving Cancelled Shows?


Netflix (s NFLX) has been extremely successful with an online streaming offering that’s primarily “re-run TV” — that is, later syndicated content that has already run its course on the major cable and broadcast networks. But there could also be the possibility for it to work with broadcast companies to keep low-rated shows that have a lot of Netflix viewers on the air.

Netflix just recently got into licensing original programming, with a deal to gain exclusive rights to the Kevin Spacey-David Fincher project House of Cards. That deal will put House of Cards on Netflix instead of a pay TV network like HBO (s TWX) or Showtime. (s CBS) On its earnings call, CEO Reed Hastings said the subscription video provider could see itself doing a few more similar deals before the program becomes available.

So what’s next for Netflix? With plenty of rerun programming and now some original programming, Hastings said the company could keep some shows that are on the chopping block alive, by working with broadcasters and cable networks. In an interview, MediaMemo’s Peter Kafka asked if it would make sense for Netflix to do so. Hastings’ response:

“Yes. For example, Friday Night Lights wasn’t going to get continued two seasons ago on NBC, and DirecTV did a deal to extend that show. So we can see ourselves doing something like that — extending a season of something that was doing well on Netflix.”

Netflix wouldn’t be the first subscription video service to do so. As Hastings mentioned, DirecTV (s DTV) helped save Friday Night Lights from extinction by making a deal with NBC. (s CMCSA) (s ge) DirecTV also picked up the low-rated but critically acclaimed FX show Damages when it was facing cancellation. But DirecTV has decided against doing more show-saving deals in the future.

Keeping an ailing show with a niche audience running could actually make sense for Netflix. Unlike the broadcast networks, Netflix doesn’t depend on ratings from live show airings to appease advertisers; instead, it justifies the cost of licensing through the number of subscribers it has and how often they view the content over the life of the license.

And for the networks, a Netflix deal could provide an additional revenue stream for those shows, which could potentially offer more value than advertising alone. Such a deal could also have the added benefit of boosting viewership during the live airing: Netflix argues that shows with episodes available through its streaming service — like Starz’s Spartacus — pull better ratings as a result. That’s in part because Netflix raises the visibility of those shows, and in part because viewers are able to catch up on shows that they missed through on-demand viewing.



The Chicago Code would be an excellent save. FOX cut it just when the characters were getting interesting and exciting. Plus, the title song and musical score is the best in years. The last weeks of the show, left you wanting much more. Unfortunately, FOX was too short sighted to see this!


Bring flashforward back I watched it on netflix and I am soo upset to find out it didn’t run its course its kind of agrivating this happened with dead like me as well I would watch the series if it came back and lots of others who picked it up later would as well.


Give Chicago Code some love. I’d also really like to see NBC’s Life or ABC’s Better Off Ted on tv again. So many GREAT show’s are prematurely getting the “axe”.


How could I forget
RUBICON!!!! And from the BBC. Survivors!!!!!


Here is my list:
The Unusuals
Detroit 187


Entertainment delivery in the home is going through such a metamorphosis right now, and Netflix is at the center of te change. I know people that have given up cable and satellite and just use online media such as Netflix and YouTube. Keeping series alive is just another piece in the puzzle and another opportunity for Netflix to continue standing out in the crowd.


Please, please, PLEASE pick up Stargate Universe. We can’t just leave it like that, it’s too depressing. With the right push (which Syfy did not give) the show could be a huge success especially given the progress made this season.


A show that has only recently been canx. please bring back Stargate Universe


please save Stargate Universe! And we need more Atlantis, too!


Great article :)

A very good strategy, given that more and more competing VOD services are becoming available, and much of the same content will be available across a range of services. Unique content thats only available on their service, means Netflix will have a unique proposition to entice niche audiences to use them instead of other VOD services.

Chris Crosby


(Love STARGATE too, but the soaps have higher ratings than SGU and get them EVERY WEEKDAY!)

DB Harshaw

This makes sense: there are so many devoted followers of cancelled shows, why not make whatever dollar is possible?


Stargatestargatestargatestargatestargate… fingers crossed!


They should be chomping at the bit to pickup Firefly, Stargate, and perhaps Terminator: Sarah Connor Chronicles. Franchises like that have absolutely massive fan-bases that would FLOCK to Netflix BY THE MILLIONS if they resurrected them, even if in limited run seasons (eg 6 episodes a piece).


Me and my friends second, third, fourth, and eleventh this suggestion. The Sci-Fi fan base has taken a beating over and over again, with our shows (be they mildly successful or even well regarded) getting canceled even when they were doing well – mostly because they were deemed “too expensive to warrant production’. Which is malarkey, because they show have known from the start it would be costly. Also, Sci-fi / Fantasy shows tend to have huge fanatical fan base, that literally will eat through merchandise. Netflix has to jump on this, pronto.
So Say We All.


Yes! I’m a subscriber and defiantly would not mind paying a few extra dollars if y’all bought back Flashforward!! :)

Ryan Lawler

@TomTom – I don’t claim to be the first to put forward this idea — obviously it’s been floating around for a while (and long before TechCrunch wrote that) … but it was the first time I’ve seen Hastings say it would make sense.


Looks like a revival of Red Envelope Entertainment. They killed this venture back in 2009 as it looked like they were stepping on the toes of their providers. Oh, how things have changed.


Ryan Lawler

@TimeKeeper – They were also losing money on Red Envelope — Hastings said they lost $10 million on it before shutting it down.


Here is my list:
Rubicon, The Unusuals, BBC Survivors, Stargate Universe, Deadwood, Flashforward and the one where the guy went back to 1974 as a cop in New York!

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