While Netflix’s Watch Instantly and Hulu Plus seem pretty different on the surface, and that the two services could exist peacefully with one another, but it seems that one of the companies is taking a very aggressive stance to put the hurt on the other one.
According to The New York Post, Netflix has approached the broadcast networks in the United States about acquiring in-season episodes of their shows so that they would appear on Watch Instantly within days of them airing over the air. This is an obvious attack on Hulu’s Hulu Plus service, which, oddly enough, is owned jointly by ABC, Fox and NBC.
Considering Hulu Plus costs $7.99 a month, which each network receives a cut of, it’s hard to fathom why the networks would want to cut their own creation off at the knees. Well, the rumor is that Netflix is offering $70,000 to $100,000 per episode for the in-season rights. Seeing as the average television season is 22 episodes in the United states, that would work out to $1.54 to $2.2 million per season for every episode of a show. Multiple that times several shows per network and you’re talking serious enough money that it is hard to imagine Hulu would bring in via subscribers and advertising.
Netflix has been spending money like it’s going out of style as of late to secure rights to films so that access will show up in Watch Instantly before they make it to cable channels like HBO and Showtime. Reed Hastings, CEO of Netflix, has said many times he would also like to beef up the service’s TV offerings, so this makes sense that they would go this route, but, again, the Hulu portion of the equation is the puzzler.
Wouldn’t you think that the networks would want to support something that they own? Why give Netflix that much more of a leg up in the fight for online streaming superiority? If Netflix is able to pull this off with some key shows, such as the CSI franchises, it would become more difficult for consumers to rationalize paying for both services. Why have Hulu Plus and Netflix Watch Instantly when all of the key programming plus loads more is on the latter?
Apparently this isn’t a done deal yet, so things may shift greatly, but at this time it looks like Netflix is poised to become the king of video on demand streaming here in the United States.