Rivals Run Their Shows On Netflix. Does Anyone Care?

Netflix will see increased competition from Walt Disney and WarnerMedia in the OTT space. Will we see that loaded business term "frenemy" remain?

That word describes the efforts around competing against, as well as helping, one’s supposed competitors.

Netflix has 23 TV shows currently in production on big broadcast TV networks, according to MoffettNathanson Research. (Hulu has 22 TV shows.) That’s the helping part.

Now zoom out to a bigger frame: Netflix has around 1,700 total TV shows and 7,000 movies. In addition, Netflix has a total of 700 original TV series it produces. That’s the competitive part.

Still, those 23 off-network TV shows can generate big headlines in the consumer press and among consumers. One report says Netflix told NBC, for example, that reruns of “The Office” have been one of its more popular library TV series. More popular, however, might be the bigger NBC TV comedy, “Friends,” owned by WarnerMedia. 



Netflix paid a whopping $100 million for exclusive rights to those reruns next year -- a series the subscription VOD platform began airing in 2015.  Money-wise, this is a drop in the bucket. Netflix spends $8 billion a year on original programming.

The frenemy situation has a long history. Traditional TV studios have always positioned themselves this way. For example, “Modern Family” is produced by 21st Century Fox, but airs on ABC. “Big Bang Theory”/”Young Sheldon” are shows produced by WarnerMedia, but they run on CBS.

Why doesn’t a TV production studio keep shows for its own sister network? Maybe there isn't room on a schedule, or from a creative point of view, it doesn’t mesh with a network’s overall branding.

The modern TV network business has always been complicated when it comes to rerun programming. Over the past few decades, it has depended on monetizing such shows in the U.S. via TV station syndication, competitors and foreign TV companies.

But these days, this distinction is more muddy. TV networks can start up their own OTT distribution platforms, not just rely on third-party independent pay TV providers.

AT&T’s WarnerMedia seems to be conservative in this regard, very old-school. It sells reruns of “Friends” to Netflix (and makes a ton of money) on an exclusive basis for one year. But it is nonexclusive after that time.

“Frenemies” may not be going away. Does that mean real media enemies will surface?

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