Netflix struck a multi-year deal with DreamWorks Animation Monday to begin developing several new TV series that will feature some of the production company's characters from its best known films like "Shrek," "Kung Fu Panda," and "Madagascar."
The deal will also award Netflix exclusive rights to air some of DreamWorks' newest films, including "The Croods" and "Turbo."
Starting in 2014, Netflix will add 300 hours of original TV series to its library. The deal also gives the service rights to use some of DreamWorks' characters from old classics like "Casper the Friendly Ghost," "Rudolph, the Red-Nosed Reindeer," and "Lassie."
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The partnership marks Netflix's biggest original programming deal to date in what analysts consider the company's big push to become the leader in online subscription video services.
"Netflix is starting to get to a degree where content companies are considering them a viable distribution partner"
for new programs, according to Brian Fitzgerald, an analyst at Jefferies Group LLC. Studios are "coming to Netflix for deals instead of vice versa," he told Businessweek.
The DreamWorks deal also marks a huge commitment to children's programming. In December, Netflix announced it will offer Disney movies, starting with films released in 2016. Earlier this year, Netflix let its deal with Viacom Inc. for kids' shows like "Dora the Explorer" and "SpongeBob SquarePants" expire. On June 4, Amazon picked up the shows on a non-exclusive basis.
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Netflix has been the premiere service for original content, investing about $100 million for two seasons of "House of Cards" starring Kevin Spacey.
Netflix shares rose $15.24, or 7.1 percent, to close at $229.23 on Monday, while DreamWorks shares rose 93 cents, or 4 percent, to close at $23.74, according to Businessweek.
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