If you’ve been spending your downtime this summer catchng up on such shows as Hoarders or Pawn Stars on Netflix’s Watch Instantly streaming service, you may have been surprised this weekend when you went to continue your catch-up spree. Don’t worry, however; you weren’t falling victim to some kind of well-intentioned televisual intervention via long-distance proxy when you couldn’t find the shows on the service. It turns out, around 800 hours of content from A&E and affiliated networks was taken from the service on Friday, and more is on the way out.
The Hollywood Reporter has confirmation from Netflix that the A&E titles were removed from the service at the end of last week. “A number of titles expired today, that is true, but we have titles coming on and off all the time,” reported Netflix spokesman Joris Evans when asked about the disappearance of shows including not only Hoarders and Pawn Stars, but also Storage Wars, American Pickers and several others. As Evans’ statement may suggest, Netflix is playing down the show’s disappearance, and with some reason; the company is actually still in negotiation with A&E over a new agreement that would see the various shows return to the service sooner rather than later, in which case, why draw attention to what may end up being a hiccup in service?
On the other hand, there’s the other hand. The negotiations between A&E and Netflix didn’t lead to an agreement in time for uninterrupted service, and they are still ongoing three days into the shows being offline with, according to the Hollywood Reporter’s unnamed sources, no end in sight. The issue that hasn’t been settled isn’t, apparently, anything to do with money but exclusivity, interestingly enough; Netflix is said to be asking for “some level of exclusivity that A&E is unwilling to grant.”
It’s possible that this could be a sign of things to come for Netflix. With the rise of alternate streaming avenues for broadcasters – Amazon Prime and Hulu, to name just two, not to mention the continually-rumored Apple variation on the idea that may or may not be connected with the equally long-rumored Apple TV product – Netflix may find more and more often that broadcasters have no problem with the idea of sharing their content with streaming services, but are increasingly unwilling to limit the number of services that their content is available on, no matter how much money is offered to sweeten the deal. In this, Netflix may be a victim of its own success; having proven the value of streaming content, now they have to deal with a market in which the content providers recognize the value of their content in this context.