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Goodbye, Spongebob: Netflix Loses Contract With Viacom

netflixFor those of us that rely on Netflix to entertain the kids while you cook dinner or go to the bathroom (don’t deny it, we all do it), your selection of videos to choose from just declined dramatically as Netflix and Viacom (who owns Nickelodeon, home of shows like Spongebob) break up.

According to a statement to shareholders, Netflix deliberately chose to not renew the contract.

As we continue to focus on exclusive and curated content, our willingness to pay for nonexclusive, bulk content deals declines. At the end of May we’ll be allowing our broad Viacom Networks deal for Nickelodeon, BET, and MTV content to expire. We are in discussions with them about licensing particular shows but have yet to conclude a deal.

Many industry experts suggest that as Netflix continues to focus on creating original content (such as House of Cards, a political show starring Kevin Spacey or Hemlock Grove, a supernatural series that just launched last month), it will work harder on cherry picking deals with television producers. Here’s what Mashable had to say.

Netflix’s decision is tied directly to its new strategy of being an “expert programmer” and curator instead of a broad distributor of entertainment. It’s a decision made out of necessity rather than preference, since the studios have a love/hate relationship with service, and will likely never make more than a few select, current titles available to Netflix’s subscriber service.

Interestingly, Netflix has expanded its offerings from Disney, according to All Things D.

Netflix is adding “Jake and the Never Land Pirates” and “Tron: Uprising” today; later this month they will be joined by “Handy Manny,” “Special Agent Oso” and “JoJo’s Circus.” As with all of Netflix’s TV deals, this is a catalog pact, which means the service won’t get its hands on shows until after they’ve aired at least once on regular TV.

The Fiscal Times goes even further, wondering if Netflix plans to expand into children’s programming.

It’s possible that Netflix will create its own programming for very young people, at least someday. Just as Netflix was savvy enough to give Spacey a meaty acting challenge in “House of Cards,” it can no doubt pluck a movie or television star into an original show for youngsters, too.

In children’s programming, as in everything else in the entertainment industry, it remains true that content is king. But what is supreme is how a company can make the most money possible from that content. By creating it, Netflix can be in a unique position to challenge Viacom’s supremacy in a popular, specialized market.

Regardless of the motivations behind these changes, one thing is clear: watching television shows in real time is getting to be something most of us do less and less frequently.

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