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DreamWorks, Netflix in deal for new TV programs

DreamWorks Animation’s partnership with Internet streaming service Netflix will bring some new programs “inspired” by characters from past DreamWorks Animation franchises, including “Shrek.”
ASSOCIATED PRESS
DreamWorks Animation’s partnership with Internet streaming service Netflix will bring some new programs “inspired” by characters from past DreamWorks Animation franchises, including “Shrek.”

LOS ANGELES — DreamWorks Animation, trying to lessen its dependence on the volatile movie business by aggressively expanding into TV programming, has decided to forgo cable television in favor of Netflix.

In a multiyear deal announced Monday, DreamWorks Animation will supply a torrent of new episodic TV programs to the Internet streaming service. The partnership calls for 300 hours of original programming, perhaps the biggest commitment yet to bring Hollywood-caliber content to the Web first.

The new programs will be “inspired” by characters from past DreamWorks Animation franchises, which include “Shrek” and “The Croods,” and its upcoming feature films. Series will also come from Classic Media, which the studio bought last year. Classic Media’s holdings include characters like Casper the Friendly Ghost, Lassie, She-Ra, and Mr. Magoo.

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The agreement is the latest in the hotly competitive market for streaming content, with major services like Netflix, Hulu, and Amazon vying for viewers who are gravitating to the Web, especially younger ones.

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Until now, DreamWorks Animation’s primary focus has been the release of about two costly movies a year. Its success record is strong, but one miss can send its stock price plummeting, as was the case late last year, when “Rise of the Guardians” severely underperformed expectations; the company eventually took an $87 million write-down tied to the film.

The studio’s characters currently appear on four TV shows. Three are made by Nickelodeon under a licensing agreement, while DreamWorks Animation supplies a fourth, based on “How to Train Your Dragon,” to Time Warner’s Cartoon Network.

The first of the new DreamWorks Animation programs will appear on Netflix sometime next year. Netflix has exclusive rights to the series in all of the countries in which it operates; it has about 27 million streaming subscribers in the United States.

A DreamWorks Animation spokeswoman declined to provide more details, including financial terms. Jeffrey Katzenberg, the studio’s chief executive, plans to outline his TV strategy in a conference call Tuesday with analysts and reporters.