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NEW YORK ( TheStreet) -- Monday morning went off like so many Monday mornings of the past.
Netflix(NFLX - Get Report) put out a press release. The media regurgitated its contents, reporting with little more than line-by-line paraphrasing. And, of course, NFLX stock soared. Up more than 7% intraday and at the close.
Few people ask questions. We just take it at face value. Netflix signs a deal with
Dreamworks Animation(DWA - Get Report) for "exclusive" access to original programming so it must be good.
Now, I'm not saying it's horrible news. The Netflix-provided theme --
this takes our original programming strategy to the next level and strengthens our Kids TV offering -- certainly deserves considerable play. That said, is there anything in life that's so cut and dry? Particularly in Hollywood and on Wall Street?
Covering Netflix makes my head hurt. So I'm not going to rant on and on about this. The chips just need to fall over the next few months and, maybe, years. But I am saying this: ask questions and don't buy the singular storyline the media sells. In fact the media's not even selling it; they're merely buying it -- unconditionally -- in the condition Netflix sells it.
Netflix aside, that general notion should terrify you as much as the NSA scandal.
In any event, the deal with Dreamworks not only adds to the billions in debt Netflix continues to amass, it further reflects the position of weakness the company operates from vis-a-vis the big content providers.
At the very least, consider the situation from another perspective.
Dreamworks gets Netflix to pay a considerable sum of money to operate as a guinea pig. In other words, Dreamworks can try something new in original programming while passing off a considerable chunk of the risk and cost to Netflix. Netflix receives what I assume (nobody releases these details) is a much shorter window of exclusivity than say,
Time Warner's(HBO)HBO gets in its deal with, say,
When you look at it from that perspective, the
smile for the cameraspress release quote from Dreamworks CEO Jeffrey Katzenberg -- "This is an unprecedented commitment to original content in the internet television space... Netflix is a visionary company that continues to redefine the way audiences watch television and it is a thrill to add to their growing momentum" -- waxes superficial and takes on different meaning.
Here's what one of the few Wall Street analysts worth listening to -- Richard Tullo of Albert Fried -- thinks of the deal, in excerpted email comments he sent me Monday:
Very good for Dream Works
Does spending $300 or more for content help NFLX expand profits well that's a question
I don't think this adds $1 billion in value to NFLX shares
NFLX needs to add about 1 million subs to justify the cost of the dreamworks orginals
NFLX needs to add 3 million subs to justify the cost of this years originals
I am also interested in seeing if this content is truly exclusive to Netflix on all platforms, could be we see these exclusives on Cn and Nick just as we see Monsters versus Dragons on Tv today.
I'm sure we'll get more from Tullo in the coming days on television or elsewhere. If I catch one of his notes, I'll be sure to pass it on.
Written by Rocco Pendola in Santa Monica, Calif.