June 11, 2013

Welcome to the Future of Content Programming

This month marked the start of season three of The Killing, an American remake of a popular Danish crime drama. What makes this newsworthy is the fact that the show was cancelled after its second season. But if TV has taught us anything lately it’s that no content is ever truly dead. The deal just has to be good enough.

In a candid look inside the process, President and General Manager of AMC, Charlie Collier posted a lengthy essay to LinkedIn, outlining how they brought The Killing back to life. Collier discusses how the ratings of the second season (combined with disappointment over how the first season failed to resolve plot points) led to the show’s demise, but “creative arrangements” with Netflix allowed them to revive the show. According to Collier:

“After much back and forth, a novel three-way partnership was built. AMC, as always, will premiere the program on-air and its cable, satellite and telco distribution partners will enjoy next-day VOD and other customary ancillary rights. Netflix, through creative arrangements with rights-holder FTVS, will be the exclusive SVOD home to The Killing with its window beginning about six months after the AMC premiere.”

While his post mentions Netflix in the US having an exclusive on The Killing in approximately six months, what goes unmentioned is that Netflix has next-day rights in the UK and Ireland. (Seasons one and two are available globally to all Netflix subscribers). So UK and Irish subscribers will be able to follow along with the program as it runs in the US on AMC.

This is far from the first show to be revived in this way. In fact, this announcement is occurring on the cusp of arguably the archetype of this revival: Arrested Development’s return to the screen with its fourth season episodes to debut exclusively on Netflix.

The writing is on the wall and its message is clear: on-demand subscription services will have a growing influence on original programming. And these deals will be more global in nature as our sense of content “regions” evolves.

Perhaps one of the most interesting aspects of these events is that AMC is making a much bigger deal about The Killing than Netflix is about it. I understand it is busy with other shows right now, but I can’t help but feel that, were this happening two or three years ago, Netflix would have been banging the drum loudly in an effort to show its influence in licensing deals. Given where Netflix is today (and the number of deals it has working), securing rights to The Killing might not be as “big” to Hastings and team as many think.


Andy Beach is the founder of Techgeist, an online video consulting company, where he works on solutions that touch every part of the Over The Top distribution ecosystem, from encoding and compression to delivery and playback. He has contributed articles to popular industry media outlets like FierceOnlineVideo, and authored Real World Video Compression.

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