Netflix, adding to its growing role in kids' online videos, has obtained exclusive streaming rights to the new, final season of "Star Wars: The Clone Wars," an animated TV series based on George Lucas's "Star Wars" movies from Walt Disney Co.
U.S. and Canadian subscribers will be able to view the 13-episode sixth season of "Star Wars: the Clone Wars" beginning March 7, Netflix said today. The series ran for five seasons on Time Warner's Cartoon Network.
"'Star Wars' is one of the most iconic franchises of all time, and this series joins a long line of Disney content that Netflix members are and will continue to enjoy for years to come," Netflix Chief Content Officer Ted Sarandos said in a statement. "The 'Clone Wars' marks an important moment as Netflix welcomes more and more first-run content from the Walt Disney Co. and its subsidiaries."
Netflix is focusing on delivering a mix of exclusive TV shows and movies, including children's fare, as it battles not only traditional TV but Amazon Prime and Hulu for viewers. The company has exclusive deals with both Disney and DreamWorks Animation SKG.
Netflix shares have more than doubled in the past year.
Starting in 2016, Netflix gains exclusive U.S. streaming rights to movies from Disney, the world's largest entertainment company, in a release schedule typically reserved for premium cable channels like Liberty Media's Starz.
Netflix negotiated separately with Disney for "Star Wars: The Clone Wars," said Jenny McCabe, a spokeswoman for Netflix.
The world's largest subscription streaming service also will offer expanded versions of the first five seasons of the Emmy award-winning show.
Last year, Netflix passed Time Warner's premium cable outlet HBO in paid U.S. subscribers. The second season of the Kevin Spacey political thriller "House of Cards" becomes available for streaming tomorrow on Netflix.
Michael Pachter, an analyst at Wedbush Securities, has questioned whether Netflix can grow fast enough to pay for about $7.3 billion in programming obligations over the next five years.
CEO Reed Hastings said in February that Netflix is considering changing its unlimited $7.99 monthly pricing plan, replacing a single fee with three tiers that would increase revenue and profit.
The "Star Wars" TV series, set between the events of the second and third episodes of the movies, "Attack of the Clones" and "Revenge of the Sith," follows the adventures of Obi-Wan Kenobe, Anakin Skywalker and Ahsoka Tano, a young Jedi.
Lucasfilm, acquired by Disney for $4 billion in December 2012, said in March of last year that production of new TV episodes had stopped.
Of the children's programming available to Netflix, about 30 shows typically attract more than 2 million viewers, Sarandos said in a recent interview, without elaborating.
~ Bloomberg News ~