Netflix announced Tuesday morning that it reached agreements with CBS and Disney Channel to stream some of their most popular shows, which can be viewed on PCs or living-room TVs through new media-extender devices made by Roku, LG Electronics and Microsoft.
The deals help to speed Netflix’s gradual transformation from a subscription-based movie-rental service that relied exclusively on the shipping of physical DVDs to an online-content provider with a wide array of programming.
For the networks, it gives them another digital-distribution channel as they extend their brands beyond Apple’s iTunes online store, the early leader in providing primetime shows through the Web and still the most popular paid-download service.
Netflix already offers 12,000 choices members can watch instantly online. The CBS and Disney Channel deals bring popular shows from the current season, including CBS’ CSI, which can be instantly streamed at Netflix when the new season starts in October, and Disney’s Hannah Montana, available in November.
For CBS, current season episodes of hit spinoffs CSI: Miami and CSI: NY are available on Netflix this week. The CBS agreement also includes dramas NCIS and Numb3rs, which start their new seasons next month.
Some 350 CBS episodes covered in the deal include prior seasons of the three CSI series and Numb3rs; the first two seasons of the popular Jericho series; and, among others, episodes from TV classics such as Star Trek, MacGyver and Family Ties. The catalog episodes will come online this fall.
Besides Hannah Montana, the Disney deal also includes originals Wizards of Waverly Place and The Suite Life on Deck, which premieres Friday. The Disney shows can be streamed instantly at Netflix beginning this week, 24 hours after each episode's initial broadcast.
Brokered by Disney-ABC Domestic Television, the deal represents the first Netflix digital license for Disney-ABC Television Group content since Netflix launched the instant streaming component of its service 18 months ago.
Some 500 episodes from Disney Channel's library -- including previously aired episodes of The Suite Life of Zack & Cody, Wizards of Waverly Place and Hannah Montana, as well as episodes of popular animated series The Replacements, Lilo & Stitch: The Series, The Emperor's New School and many others -- will come online to Netflix beginning in 2009.
"We are thrilled to enter into these relationships with CBS and Disney Channel and build upon their innovative distribution strategies," said Robert Kyncl, vice president of content acquisition for Netflix, in a statement. "We have a shared interest in granting fans expanded access to and strengthening the networks' key shows."