CBS' Showtime unit said it will remove some of the premium cable network's shows from Netflix Inc.'s streaming video service, days after the online video distributor said it planned to offer its own original programming.
Showtime spokeswoman Johanna Fuentes confirmed that it will remove from Netflix all episodes of TV series that are currently running on the channel when the current distribution deal expires this summer. That leaves Netflix subscribers with limited time to watch old episodes of shows such as "Dexter" and "Californication," which
David Duchovny in 'Californication,' one of the Showtime shows that will be taken off of the Netflix stream.
Fuentes declined to comment on the reason for the shift, but Showtime's chief executive, Matt Blank, indicated in an interview with Crain's New York that the move is a response to the emerging competitive threat posed by Netflix to premium cable networks, such as Showtime and Time Warner Inc.'s HBO.
"We're perplexed by this," said Netflix spokesman Steve Swasey. "We have great Showtime shows available on our service, and we expect to continue with those shows. We have a very good relationship with CBS and all its channels."
Separately, Netflix suffered a disruption to its streaming service Tuesday that left subscribers without access for several hours in the late afternoon and evening. Mr. Swasey said it was perhaps the worst such disruption that has occurred since the service was launched in 2007.
Ms. Fuentes said past seasons of current shows on the network will be available on Showtime's own streaming service, which is offered to its subscribers behind a pay wall. Netflix, which charges $7.99 a month to watch movies online, will still be able to offer episodes from Showtime series that have ended their run on the network, such as "The Tudors" and "Sleeper Cell."
Netflix recently struck a deal for exclusive first-run rights to a new show created by David Fincher called "House of Cards." That deal marks Netflix's first foray into original programming and has been viewed as another step in the company's challenge to the pay-TV industry, which has become a key source of revenue for major media companies.
While Netflix is emerging as competition for TV networks, it also has proven to be a potent source of new revenue for the industry. CBS recently signed a separate, two-year distribution deal with Netflix for hundreds of millions of dollars, providing mostly older library content to its streaming service, such as episodes of "Cheers," "Star Trek" and "The Twilight Zone."
Starz, owned by Liberty Media Corp., has a controversial streaming deal with Netflix that makes its original programming available on the service. That deal, set to expire early next year, has been derided in the pay-TV industry as one that dilutes the value of programming and risks cannibalizing the pay-TV subscription business. It's also credited with supplying Netflix's service with some of its best content and fueling the popularity of the service.
HBO, the leading pay-TV network, doesn't make any of its original programming available on Netflix's streaming service.