Fans of The Flash, Arrow and Supergirl will only need to wait days rather than months for new seasons to appear on Netflix as the streaming giant works to fast-track content.For now the deal with the CW Network only applies to US Netflix, but it's a good sign for Netflix viewers around the world that content producers and broadcasters are trying to move with the times and reduce the 12-month lag between when a show screens on television and when it reaches subscription video.
The CW Network deal means that its next season of television shows – due to kick off in August/September – will arrive on Netflix only eight days after each program's season finale next year. The deal includes The Flash, Arrow, Supergirl, Legends of Tomorrow, Jane the Virgin, iZombie and The Vampire Diaries along with new series Frequency, No Tomorrow and Riverdale.
The deal could put pressure on other content providers to follow suit, with the latest season of Marvel's Agents of SHIELD taking a month to come to US Netflix – still a faster turnaround time than previous seasons of the show.
Unfortunately it's impossible for Netflix to make these kinds of deals global because broadcast rights belong to different broadcasts in different markets. Foxtel is the home of most of these CW shows in Australia, so they take their time coming to Netflix – Arrow season 4 and The Flash season 2 just wrapped up on Foxtel but Arrow season 3 has only just come to Australia Netflix and we're yet to see The Flash at all.
Foxtel wields a lot of clout in Australia and is clearly happy to pay extra for exclusive deals, such as keeping HBO's Game of Thrones out of the iTunes and Google Play stores until the entire season has finished screening.
It will be interesting to see how long Foxtel can maintain this kind of control over all its programming or whether content providers will start to push for their content to reach other channels sooner. Content providers might be squeezing extra money out of Foxtel for exclusive rights, but there's also losing potential iTunes/Google sales to piracy as fans aren't prepared to wait for the opportunity to buy each episode.
How do you get your superhero fix? Will fast-tracked streaming win you away from piracy?