"Netflix and Sony Pictures Television have reached a multi-year agreement to bring Sony Pictures Animation feature films in the first pay TV window to Netflix members in the U.S.
Netflix has started offering Sony Animation content under a new licensing deal, with Starz continuing to offer its subscribers Sony live-action movies. A Netflix spokesman confirmed Tuesday that the streaming video company has struck a deal for Sony Animation films after a Wall Street analyst had suggested such a deal in a report. Financial terms weren't immediately clear.
A Starz representative confirmed that the animation films were excluded from a licensing deal that the firm has with Sony.
"Netflix and Sony Pictures Television have reached a multi-year agreement to bring Sony Pictures Animation feature films in the first pay TV window to Netflix members in the U.S., beginning with the hit movies Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs 2 and The Smurfs 2 in 2014," the three companies said in a joint statement. "Sony and Starz continue their long-term partnership, and Starz remains the exclusive pay TV home of Sony Pictures Entertainment feature titles through 2021."
A Wall Street observer had first pointed out that the Cloudy sequel was already on Netflix.
"It appears that Sony Animation's content has prematurely left the Starz platform for Netflix," Janney Montgomery Scott analyst Tony Wible had said in a Tuesday morning report. "The studio's latest animated film, Cloudy With a Chance of Meatballs 2, just entered the pay TV window and was recently made available on Netflix. We do not see any current listing dates for the title on Starz or the title listed on its web site."
Starz and Sony last year extended an existing film licensing deal. The new arrangement covers films that are released through 2021. "Our conversation with the head of Sony's studio last year revealed that Sony Animation content was not included as part of the recent Sony/Starz renewal, but we assumed that term would not commence until the start of its new contract in 2016," Wible wrote. "We believe this is an incremental positive for Netflix and incremental negative for Starz."
For Netflix, the news is positive, because the company can replace part of the content it lost from its discontinued licensing deal with Starz, the analyst said, adding: "The Sony deal would only add one or two titles per year to its lineup, but gradually increases the company's focus around younger/animated content as they have exclusive access to Pixar, Disney Animation, DreamWorks Animation, and Sony Animation."