Some of the shows you binge watched first on Netflix are coming to broadcast television.
Netflix and Univision Communications Inc. announced a unique deal that will allow the nation’s largest Spanish-language broadcaster to air the first season of the Netflix original series “Narcos” ahead of its second-season premiere on the streaming service. In addition, Univision’s sister network UniMás will show “Club de Cuervos,” another Netflix original. The deal only encompasses linear television, not on-demand rights.
Adding the critically-acclaimed “Narcos” to its lineup could be a way to help Univision bolster its sagging ratings. The broadcast network is averaging 970,000 viewers aged 18 to 49 in prime time for the season that started in September, down 31% from a year earlier. Univision is paying a low fee for access to Netflix’s buzzy original programming, people familiar with the deal said.
“This promotional partnership speaks to our ability to reach and engage our growth consumer with unmatched scale and depth,” said Univision Chief Executive Randy Falco.
Netflix views the arrangement as a marketing test to see if airing old seasons of its shows on traditional television will help drive people to sign up for the streaming service ahead of the premieres of subsequent seasons. It recently struck a similar deal with French TV channel operator TF1, which is airing Netflix’s French political drama “Marseille” on linear TV following its global premiere on Netflix.
“Promoting these original shows on Univision is a great way to further reach Hispanic audiences and help them discover Netflix,” said Netflix Chief Content Officer Ted Sarandos in a statement.
For now, Netflix isn’t viewing the deals as a way to create a new line of syndication revenue for itself, a person familiar with its thinking said. It remains to be seen whether Netflix comes to view these new kinds of “promotional” deals to license second-run rights to its original shows as a revenue opportunity in the future. It’s long been a question whether Netflix’s original programming would have a life after airing on the streaming service.
The arrangement does suggest the potential for a new kind of market for reruns. In the decades-old syndication model in television, shows that aired on broadcast television were sold to cable networks for their subsequent runs. In recent years, that syndication market has come under pressure. So, studios started selling library licensing rights to streaming services like Netflix to help defray the cost of making expensive original programs for TV networks.
Netflix, for its part, tends to pay a hefty premium to producers for global rights to air shows like “Narcos” exclusively on its platform, sometimes ponying up premiums equivalent to 120% to 150% of a show’s cost, The Wall Street Journal has previously reported.
Netflix also has been striking more co-production deals for original shows with local broadcasters as a way to reduce costs. Another example of that emerged Tuesday, when Univision and Netflix also said they would co-produce a new crime drama called “El Chapo” together. It will air in the U.S. first on UniMás and then go to Netflix. Netflix will have the exclusive streaming rights for the show in the rest of the world.
The two companies announced the deals as Univision was set to present its new slate of programming for the upcoming season to advertisers at its “upfront” event Tuesday morning.