NBC Universal and Warner Bros. have nailed down a digital distribution agreement for NBC's Studio 60 on the Sunset Strip. NBC gets the rights to stream the new drama on its sites and those of its affiliates, third-party sites and VOD, subscription VOD and wireless platforms. Warner Bros., the studio which produces the show, gets the rights to paid downloads of episodes on retail outlets including iTunes, Amazon.com and AOL.
The NBC/Warner Bros. deal, which goes through the 2006-7 broadcast season, comes after networks and studios have struggled to figure out who is entitled to control the digital dissemination of shows. Because both the studios and the networks want to maintain as much control as possible over how their content is distributed online, so far there have been very few network shows produced by third-party studios (studios outside of their corporate families) made available on iTunes.
With the tremendous production costs for Studio 60 - an estimated $3 million an episode - both Warner Bros. and NBC have a lot riding on making sure the drama is seen by as many people as possible, so it is in their best interest to get the show out there on digital platforms.
ABC worked out a similar digital distribution deal with Warner Bros. for The Nine. ABC will handle the new show's streaming, retaining the advertising revenue generated from its free streaming player on abc.com. Warner Bros. will offer paid downloads of the show the day after they air.