Netflix to Air New DreamWorks Animation Shows

Jeffrey Katzenberg Governors Awards - H 2013
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Jeffrey Katzenberg Governors Awards - H 2013

The streaming video giant's largest-ever deal for original first-run content will give its members exclusive access to new shows from the studio led by Jeffrey Katzenberg.

Netflix and DreamWorks Animation on Monday unveiled a multiyear deal that will make the online streaming giant the premier home of new original TV series based on the studio's characters and franchises.

The agreement is Netflix's largest deal ever for original first-run content, they said. It allows DreamWorks Animation to launch original shows based on its characters and franchises into the TV market as a branded collection of shows.

Financial details weren't disclosed.

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The deal will cover more than 300 hours of new programming and is a key part of DWA's plan to expand its TV production and distribution worldwide, according to the companies.

The new DWA shows will be based on characters from the studio's hit franchises and upcoming feature films, as well as the library of Classic Media, which DWA acquired last year. Further details on the number of shows and the characters they will use weren't immediately disclosed.

DWA franchises currently include the likes of Shrek, Madagascar, Kung Fu Panda and How to Train Your Dragon. Classic Media characters include Lassie, Casper the Friendly Ghost, Frosty the Snowman, George of the Jungle, Rocky & Bullwinkle and VeggieTales.

The first DWA series for Netflix is expected to begin airing sometime in 2014. No further timing details were announced. Netflix will premiere the shows in all of its territories.

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For the time being, the online streaming giant will be the only home for these shows. There is a possibility for second-cycle rights deals down the line, but DWA didn't go into detail on such possible plans.

CEO Jeffrey Katzenberg has been signaling for sometime that DWA was exploring a larger TV initiative. In late April, he said that DWA’s three shows on Nickelodeon make a “negligible” financial contribution to the company, meaning there was upside opportunity in any new deal. He also described Classic Media’s 450 titles as "a meaningful place of opportunity" back then.

“This is an unprecedented commitment to original content in the Internet television space,” Katzenberg said Monday. “Netflix is a visionary company that continues to redefine the way audiences watch television, and it is a thrill to add to their growing momentum.”

The two companies already struck a couple of deals in the past. In February, they announced a first-ever Netflix original series for kids, Turbo F.A.S.T, based on the upcoming film Turbo, which premieres on July 17. The episodic animated series will pick up the story of the speedy snail that is the film's protagonist. The series will be available in all Netflix territories beginning in December.

Also coming exclusively to Netflix in the U.S. and Latin America next year will be new DWA feature films, beginning with The Croods, followed by Turbo and the adaption of Mr. Peabody & Sherman, which is set to open theatrically in March 2014.

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“DreamWorks Animation is a valued partner in our global efforts to provide families the most engaging stories delivered however, whenever and wherever they want,” said Netflix chief content officer Ted Sarandos. “This deal represents a major expansion of what’s already a phenomenal relationship, allowing us to bring beloved DreamWorks characters to the 40 countries where Netflix operates and setting the stage for us to innovate together as we expand into new markets.”

The Netflix deal does not affect the DWA shows on Nickelodeon and Cartoon Network. They will continue to run on those networks.

Twitter: @georgszalai