With its instant streaming service now firmly entrenched worldwide, Netflix is undoubtedly on top of the mountain when it comes to online movie and TV services.
That kind of market share brings with it huge profit margins, and the company has now decided to flex its monetary muscle in a big way. Netflix has agreed to shell out an astonishing $2 million per episode in order to acquire the off-network streaming rights to NBC drama The Blacklist.
Soundly trouncing the ratings numbers put up by every other scripted NBC series of the 2013-2014 season, The Blacklist burst onto the scene with both a recognizable leading man - James Spader- and a truckload of hype. The series itself did not disappoint, garnering almost universally positive critical reviews, and quickly amassing a fan following to rival any other primetime network series currently on the air. In short, it's not at all surprising that Netflix flung open its checkbook at the chance of purchasing The Blacklist's rerun rights.
The complete first season of The Blacklist is expected to debut on instant streaming next weekend; as part of the record-setting deal, Netflix will retain exclusive rights to the episodes for the (not yet revealed) duration of an exclusivity window. After that, production studio Sony TV will be free to shop The Blacklist reruns to cable and syndication. Each subsequent season of the show will operate on the same model, with encores debuting on Netflix, and eventually making their way to traditional television.
Netflix's $2 million per episode payout for The Blacklist easily breaks the previous record high for an online streaming deal - that being the estimated $1.35 million per episode that Netflix itself shelled out for rerun rights to AMC juggernaut The Walking Dead. This is obviously a very big commitment to make, especially for a sophomore series. There is no guarantee that The Blacklist will maintain the same level of popularity in season two that it did in season one.
The fact that NBC is bumping The Blacklist to Thursdays (following a three month hiatus no less) in the middle of the 2014-2015 season is unlikely to do the show any favors either. While the model has worked fairly well on cable, broadcast dramas that take long breaks rarely return to the same ratings levels they left on, and the same can be said for programs that jump to different nights/timeslots during the same season. Of course, there're always exceptions to every rule, and it would be just like Spader's crafty criminal Raymond "Red" Reddington to find a way to get what he wants in the end.
The Blacklist season two premieres Monday, September 22, 2014 at 10/9c.