Online movie rental service Netflix ( NFLX) is teaming up with GE's ( GE) NBC to offer up new shows before they air. Los Gatos, Calif.-based Netflix will provide subscribers with a six-week advance look at premiere episodes of two new NBC shows, Studio 60 on the Sunset Strip and Kidnapped. DVDs of the shows will be mailed to Netflix customers upon request through Sept. 19. The service has 5 million subscribers. The DVDs will also include preview trailers of NBC's other shows. The promotion marks a significant change. TV critics and media buyers see shows, but this might be the first time consumers have access to a broadcast network's show before its original airing. For NBC, a move like this could provide needed buzz about its new programming. The network has languished in recent seasons thanks to a lack of new hits to replace its once fortified schedule. Others have since overtaken the Peacock network in the ratings game. "This unique joint effort will generate even more early buzz for some of our hottest new dramas by letting the Netflix user get an early preview," said NBC Universal Television Group Chief Marketing Officer John Miller. "The promotion takes aim at the Netflix demographic-rich entertainment consumer who is looking for this kind of high-end television show, and then is eager to pass the word." If they like the shows, he might add. Assuming that the content appeals, the potential benefits could amount to a so-called win-win situation. Netflix needs to grow its TV show offerings, as more are asking for episodes of popular TV on top of movie rentals. "Great TV is an increasingly important and popular component of the 60,000-title catalog Netflix offers its subscribers," said Ted Sarandos, chief content officer for Netflix. "Joining forces with NBC to launch two terrific new series differentiates our service in the area of unique and original content and provides NBC with an innovative platform to promote its fall lineup."
And NBC can get a jump start on the fall TV season by building in audience for new shows and much needed momentum ahead of the game. Several years ago Fox capitalized on the summer haze by launching new programming in August, normally re-run season. Studio 60 on the Sunset Strip is a show about the inner workings of a sketch comedy show from West Wing producer Aaron Sorkin. Kidnapped, as its title suggests, is about the abduction of a wealthy New York family's son and the ensuing drama. Meanwhile, Netflix is due to post second-quarter results on Monday. Analysts will be looking for it to earn 18 cents per share on $242.5 million in revenue. The company is well off its 52 week high of $33.12 and was trading down 6 cents on Wednesday to $23.34.