Is Netflix Trying to Take Over Hulu Territory?

Movies are Netflix’s bread and butter, but now the service is setting its sights on current television shows.

Over at the New York Post, Claire Atkinson’s unnamed source says Netflix in talks with television studios to add current primetime shows to its streaming catalog. The company is reportedly willing to spend between $70,000 and $100,000 per episode on in-season TV.

It’s probably not going to happen in the near future. Broadcast networks claim they own the streaming rights, not the studios, and they’re reluctant to make deals because they don’t want to cannibalize ad dollars reaped from syndication. I’m guessing Netflix won’t be buying many in-season shows until that gets hammered out.

Still, the point remains that Netflix is serious about getting current shows on its service, and is willing to pay big bucks for the privilege. To put it in perspective, a television show could have 20 episodes or more in a given season, so Netflix could pay $2 million dollars for a season-long run if Atkinson’s source is correct.

Current shows wouldn’t be unprecedented for Netflix. In September, the company struck a deal with NBC to stream episodes of Saturday Night Live the day after they air (Sunday Morning Taped?). The same two companies made a deal for next-day streaming of Heroes in 2007.

The amount Netflix is reportedly willing to pay shows how eagerly the company wants to get into television, and for good reason: Hulu is rapidly expanding into living rooms with Hulu Plus, and recently cut the price of the streaming TV service to $8 per month. That was shortly before Netflix introduced a streaming-only plan for the same price.

While Netflix and Hulu seemed to complement each other in the past, expect them to clash in the future. Hopefully that means more TV shows for us.

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