Six Weeks Into Broadcast Season, ‘Stacking Rights’ Taking Effect

Ever go to a network website in hopes of watching the pilot of one of their new shows? And when you get there you notice that the first episode is gone, yet they have the five most recent episodes, otherwise called the ‘rolling five.”

Well that’s about to change.  Back in May, the broadcasters, especially ABC and NBC negotiated ‘stacking rights’ with the studios that make the shows. Now, all episodes from most of the new series from the current 2016-17 season along with several returning shows, will be made available, or ‘stacked’ on their website and apps.  The one catch is that you must be an authenticated viewer, which means you still have to subscribe to a Pay TV service provider (e.g. AT&T DirecTV, Comcast, Charter, Verizon FiOS).

The reason the studios held back these rights was to negotiate higher licensing fees from a Netflix or Amazon Prime.  That’s why some older ABC shows (Grey’s Anatomy, Scandal, How to Get Away with Murder, and Marvel’s Agents of SHIELD) will not be ‘stacking’ their episodes, and instead will premiere on Netflix 30 days after the season.  The SVOD platforms always want exclusivity and would argue that a show that’s already been streamed is less valuable to them.

So there’s a tradeoff going forward.  The studios lose money in the after market, but their shows are more likely to be picked up by the broadcaster for a second season and beyond. A tradeoff they are more than willing to make.

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