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Netflix nabs Mad Men reruns

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The war over the streaming rights to popular television shows and movies is only beginning, but Netflix has landed another powerful blow. The dominant streaming company has signed a deal with Lionsgate to become the only home for Mad Men reruns on any medium, Internet or TV. That means if you want to watch Mad Men, you can either buy the DVDs, watch it first run on AMC, or get a Netflix subscription. This is the first time a deal like this has been signed, reports the LA Times, and the first time Netflix has purchased the rights to a TV show that isn’t off the air.

The deal is costly for Netflix, which is said to be paying between $750,000 and $900,000 per episode. At 52 current episodes, that means the deal is costing the streaming company at least $39 million.

On July 27, 2011, Netflix Instant will get the first four seasons of Mad Men in their entirety. When the fifth season airs in mid-to-late 2012, Netflix will not get the new episodes until the season is complete. According to the new $30 million contract series creator Matthew Weiner recently signed with Lionsgate, there will be at least three more seasons of the show.

The move to Netflix may be smart for Mad Men. Serial dramas with long, complicated plots that span entire seasons (or the series) have become popular in the last decade, but reruns of the shows often fail to perform well. A service like Netflix allows users to delve into dramas like Mad Men at their own leisure, never missing an episode and always having a chance to rewind should they miss a distant glance between Jon Hamm and January Jones.

Now, if only Netflix could somehow form a relationship with HBO and buy the rights to The Wire. I’d really like to watch it again.