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Netflix has signed a deal to offer a larger assortment of television shows from NBC Universal, making the company's online video subscription service a stronger competitor to pay TV.
Netflix announced the expanded license agreement Friday, but did not disclose any details. The multi-year deal brings to Netflix for the first time shows from NBC Universal's cable channels. The shows are scheduled to be available on Netflix starting next week.
"This agreement adds meaningfully to the wide variety of content that can be streamed from Netflix and breaks new ground in our relationship with NBC Universal," Ted Sarandos, chief content officer for Netflix said in a statement.
The new shows will be available as part of Netflix's online video service, which starts at $8.99 a month. Netflix is moving aggressively into the business of delivering movies and TV shows over the Internet, but makes most of its money by selling monthly subscriptions to DVD rentals by mail.
Among the popular TV shows that will be added to Netflix's library are "Saturday Night Live" shows from the 2010, 2011 and 2012 seasons. Netflix will get these shows the day after they are broadcast. NBC has also licensed hundreds of episodes from "SNL's" last 35 years.
Other popular shows coming to Netflix include "30 Rock," "The Office" and "Law & Order: SVU." The company will also offer more than 75 prior episodes of Syfy's "Battlestar Galactica."
The latest deal is important because it helps Netflix become a bigger challenger to pay TV. While the company's library of new shows pales in comparison to what's available on pay TV, Netflix is becoming a bigger place for recycled content, which may become good enough for some people. However, in order to maximize profits, TV production companies and Hollywood studios are unlikely to enter deals that would undermine the far more lucrative cable TV and DVD businesses.
Nevertheless, Netflix, which has 15 million subscribers, has had a major impact on the DVD rental. Its DVD-by-mail service, and the growing popularity of its online service, contributed to one-time rival Blockbuster filing for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection.
In streaming content online, Netflix competes with Hulu, which recently launched a premium Hulu Plus subscription service, and Home Box Office's HBO Go.