However, Netflix still produces very little of those products itself: And for every House of Cards or Orange Is The New Black, there's a Lilyhammer or Hemlock Grove that doesn't quite hit the mark. Content providers like Showtime, AMC, Fox and even Comcast's NBC and USA have their hands on the shows that keep folks watching and subscribing. They know Netflix viewers will wait through lengthy negotiations just as long as the new episodes of It's Always Sunny In Philadelphia, Family Guy, Arrow and the last season of Psych keep showing up and completing their collections. They know that those same viewers love having cult classics like Buffy The Vampire Slayer, Battlestar Galactica, Futurama and The X-Files around and that they'd flip out if they ever disappeared from the virtual library.
That knowledge is power, and that power comes with a price. Cable and satellite customers may one day be able to trim the price of their pay television by trimming away a few channels, but Netflix needs the content and still has the wiggle room in its pricing to pay for it. Where once Netflix was beholden to the folks with the fiber-optic cable who could accelerate and slow its speeds at whim, it's now at the mercy of channels, media companies and content providers chastened by their former masters and chasing new sources of revenue.
The niches may disappear from the cable and satellite menus, but Netflix is just one digital stockpile of niches. Just what its content partners will charge for the privilege from here on out remains to be seen. Our advice: Take the over.
-- Written by Jason Notte in Portland, Ore.
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