Netflix (NASDAQ: NFLX) will soon be streaming The People vs. O.J. Simpson: American Crime Story in almost every country where its SVOD service is available -- sorry, Canada -- thanks to a first-ever global licensing agreement with 20th Century Fox Television Distribution.
And the SVOD service picked up the Kickstarter-funded new season of Mystery Science Theater 3000, a cult show dating back to 1988 that has maintained a fairly solid fan base since it went off the air in late 1999.
The 20th Century Fox deal is the more significant one: Netflix has struggled to obtain global distribution rights for content licensed from other studios and networks, since announcing its initiative about two years ago. While American Crime Story is just one series, it marks a new step in the SVOD service's relationship with Fox's distribution wing and could open a path to similar global license deals with other content owners.
"We're excited to evolve our relationship with FOX and to bring their lauded content to our members around the world," said Sean Carey, VP of Global Television for Netflix, in a prepared statement.
Netflix is banking heavily on content to draw in and keep subscribers, its only revenue source, as SVOD competition grows ever fiercer. The early-to-market streaming service enjoyed a strong lead for at least the past four years, with other online distribution services like Redbox Instant and Blockbuster Online utterly failing to attract viewers. But that market advantage is just about gone as consumers check out rival services like Hulu and Amazon (NASDAQ: AMZN) with their own strong content lineups, and as niche SVOD services like WWE Network, HBO Now, Showtime, Comic-Con HQ, Curiosity Stream and a slew of others chip away at the dollar amounts those consumers are willing to spend monthly on entertainment.
The SVOD provider posted much lower-than-anticipated subscriber numbers in the second quarter, both in the U.S. and internationally: just 160,000 people signed up domestically, and about 1.5 million took Netflix in other countries, about a half-million less than hoped.
The addition of MST3K to the Netflix lineup could bring on a few more subscribers, though. The series reboot is the highest-funded TV and film crowdfunding campaign in Kickstarter's history -- surpassing its goal to fund 14 episodes and signaling extremely high viewer interest.
The deal, announced at a Comic-Con panel on Friday, will see the new season stream exclusively on the service in six countries: the U.S., Canada, Ireland, the U.K., New Zealand and Australia.
Series creator Joel Hodgson is on board as executive producer, as are original crew members Bill Corbett, Mary Jo Pehl and Kevin Murphy, who will be part of the writing staff and will reprise their roles in the original TV series. The Daily Show veteran Elliot Kalan is head writer, and comedians Jonah Ray and Felicia Day will co-star.
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