The CW’s long-running deal with Netflix has been a productive one for both parties. It’s helped shows like Riverdale and The Flash find and grow their audiences, and it’s helped The CW make some money when it was still finding its footing. But all that looks to be coming to an end.
Deadline reports The CW’s output deal with Netflix, which has been in place dating back to 2011, is expected to expire and not be renewed. That doesn’t mean no future CW shows will be coming to Netflix, but it does mean The CW will be able to shop those shows and seasons elsewhere. So, for example, that upcoming Riverdale spinoff Katy Keene could wind up somewhere like Amazon Prime, while the Arrowverse spinoff Batwoman might land at the WarnerMedia streaming service when it launches. Put simply, this would let The CW and the studios that produce these shows negotiate their own separate streaming deals. Some will likely still wind up at Netflix, and some will certainly go elsewhere.
For fans, that means the extremely convenient and user-friendly deal that brought CW seasons to Netflix mere weeks after they ended on-air is likely over. Though it could turn into a bummer for fans, depending on how the separate deals break out, it’s simply a sign of the times when it comes to the streaming business.
Pretty much every company is renegotiating deals and moving shows around, from Futurama’s recent jump from Netflix to Hulu to the ongoing debate over whether Netflix will be able to hang onto popular libraries like The Office or Friends long-term. The streaming business is only getting more lucrative, and though that certainly means more money for the studios, networks, and services involved — it also means more and more fragmentation for fans just looking to binge some TV shows.
The specific fallout of the deal isn’t fully known, though SYFY WIRE confirmed that past and future seasons of existing shows already on Netflix, i.e. The Flash, Arrow, Riverdale, and Legends of Tomorrow, are expected to remain on Netflix. But future shows — i.e. Batwoman, whatever the network develops from here on out — will remain a question mark until new deals, or different deals, are struck.
Of course, The CW shows do first air on broadcast television, so you can always watch live or log them on your DVR to keep up. The network also has a free app with recent episodes of shows available, though it doesn’t go nearly deep enough into the episode catalogs for legit binge-watching.