Netflix is experimenting with allowing re-runs of its original shows to play on broadcast TV in the US.
Netflix and Univision have struck a deal that will let the first season of Netflix's original Spanish-language series, "Narcos," air on television in the US in preparation for the release of its second season. Another Netflix series, "Club de Cuervos," will air on UniMas.
This move represents a new business avenue for Netflix. Netflix sees the deal as a marketing test to understand if airing its shows on broadcast TV can drive subscriber growth, according to The Wall Street Journal. The Journal says Univision is paying a "low fee" for the deal, citing "people familiar with the deal."
"Promoting these original shows on Univision is a great way to further reach Hispanic audiences and help them discover Netflix," Netflix's head of content, Ted Sarandos, said in a statement to The Journal.
This isn't the first time Netflix's original shows have run on TV, but most of the previous instances involved international licensing deals locked in while Netflix was not currently operating in a particular foreign market. In France, for example, Canal+ had exclusive rights to the first two seasons of Netflix juggernaut "House of Cards." This deal was negotiated while Netflix was not currently available in the country, and Netflix has since snagged the rights back.
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But the idea of leveraging TV re-runs of Netflix originals to lure new subscribers is new. And Netflix isn't limiting it to the US: the company signed deal similar to its Univision one with French TV company TF1 (for "Marseille," Netflix's French-language show starring Gerard Depardieu).
These deals come at a time when Netflix seems to be experimenting with its relationship to linear TV in general. Netflix recently launched "Chelsea," a new talk show from Chelsea Handler. New episodes of "Chelsea" will appear every Wednesday, Thursday, and Friday on Netflix. Handler and Netflix's take on the talk show sits in the "near-live" space, somewhere between fast-decaying broadcast news and the timelessness of Netflix's scripted shows. It's a departure in format from Netflix's previous original shows.
Netflix made a splash in originals with a particular formula: releasing full seasons, all episodes at once, of narrative shows you could binge-watch to your heart's content. Now Netflix seems to be stepping back and seeing how it can push the boundaries of that model to gain new subscribers, and keep old ones.