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PBS expands streaming deals with Netflix, Amazon

Los Angeles fans of the hit costume drama “Downton Abbey” know that on that show, someone is always planning (to put it politely). Whether it is the incorrigible grandmother trying to line up a suitable beau for one of her granddaughters or an uppity servant trying to leave the country estate and make it to the big city, it seems like there is always a plot of some kind going on.

That may also be true for PBS, which broadcasts “Downton Abbey,” as well. Recent news suggests that PBS has cleverly pitted Amazon and Netflix, two entertainment giants hungry for content to offer their subscribers, against one another as they each jockeyed for rights to re-broadcast PBS’ series.

So far, it looks like Amazon may be the winner. In addition to scoring re-broadcasting rights to “Downton Abbey,” which is by far the biggest hit PBS has had in decades, it also obtained the license to re-broadcast the science program Nova, documentaries by well-regarded filmmaker Ken Burns and the children’s show “Caillou.”

Netflix did not walk away empty-handed, though. It negotiated to be the sole platform for re-broadcasts of murder mystery “The Bletchley Circle” and the kids’ program “The Super Why!”

We took note of this story because it seemed to represent a situation in which PBS employed skilled negotiators to craft the best possible deals on its behalf. By making sure its interests were in capable hands, it was able to leverage its assets and procure what are likely very beneficial contracts for itself.

This is a tactic that all parties in the entertainment industry, be they talent or companies, would do well to follow.

Source: The Los Angeles Times, “Netlfix expands streaming deal with PBS,”  Joe Flint, July 2, 2013