NBC Universal agrees to 'next day' episode service

Netflix has sealed a deal with NBC Universal to begin offering online episodes of hit skein “Heroes.”

“Heroes” segs will appear on Netflix’s website the day after they air on the Peacock.

Under the pact, Netflix subscribers will also be able to view past episodes of other NBC series, including “30 Rock,” “Friday Night Lights” and “The Office,” via rented DVD or on Netflix’s website.

According to Netflix content acquisition VP Robert Kyncl, the NBC U deal is part of a larger effort to start offering more TV content on its website. Currently, about 20% of the company’s traditional DVD rental business consists of TV properties; Netflix is looking to assign the same percentage in the digital space.

“Netflix’s aggregate content on DVD right now is 90,000 individual titles,” Kyncl said. “My mandate is to continue increasing the availability of the same content in digital. We currently have 5,000 titles available. Our goal is to increase that in order to offer our subscribers multiple delivery options.”

For NBC, the Netflix deal is the third prong in its off-network “Heroes” strategy, which gives the online movie rental service the exclusive subscription video-on-demand rights to the show.

“This deal reflects the changing landscape of the entertainment marketplace and our objective of finding new buyers that complement our traditional customers,” said NBC Universal Domestic Television Distribution exec VP-general sales manager Frances Manfredi.

The Peacock last month struck deals with male-centric cablers G4 and Mojo for off-net strip rights to NBC’s “Heroes,” starting in 2010 (for a relative bargain of $300,000 a pop), as well as immediate same-week repurposing rights (Daily Variety, Oct. 11).

Netflix deal, which has been in the works for some time, comes as the Writers Guild strike continues. One of the key issues in sealing a new pact with the major congloms: Internet residual rights for online distribution, such as the Netflix platform.

“Heroes” episodes are also available as streaming video on Hulu and NBC.com, while segs can be downloaded to own via NBC Direct and Amazon Unbox.

The Netflix deal isn’t the first with NBC; the Peacock last year offered the pilot episodes of “Studio 60 on the Sunset Strip” and “Kidnapped” via DVD three weeks before their network debut.

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