How does Netflix license TV shows and movies?

Netflix partners with content providers to license streaming rights for a variety of TV shows and movies.

We also produce in house or acquire exclusive rights to stream content such as Orange is the New Black, BoJack Horseman, Bloodline, Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt, and many more, called Netflix Originals.

I’m looking for a TV show or movie, and I can’t find it. Why doesn’t Netflix have what I am looking for?

Netflix works with content providers, distributors, producers, and creators to acquire licensing for TV shows and movies to stream on our service. When we do not have content available to stream, it can be for a few different reasons, including:
  • The content rights are currently exclusive to another company.
  • The streaming rights are not available to purchase from the content provider.
  • Popularity, cost, seasonal or other localized factors, or availability.

Check out Why do TV shows and movies leave Netflix? for more information around why titles expire.

Why is a TV show or movie available in one country but not another?

There are many reasons a TV show or movie may be available to audiences in one country or region but not another.

Regional tastes
We do our best to shape our service by region. For example, some TV shows and movies that are popular with our members in the United States may not be desirable to members in the United Kingdom, even though they're both English-speaking regions.

Multiple rights owners
More than one studio or distributor may own regional rights for a TV show or movie. For example, we may sign an agreement with a distributor to show a US-made movie in Latin America before we've signed an agreement with the studio that made that movie to show it in the US.

No rights available for a region
Sometimes a TV show or movie simply isn't available in a particular region. We can't buy a TV show or movie license for a specific region if no one is selling it.

Why are some Netflix original TV shows or movies available in one country, but not another?

With most Netflix Originals, we own all the rights to the title and can stream it anywhere in the world. Originals we can stream anywhere include: Narcos, BoJack Horseman, Master of None, Beasts of No Nation, and more.
  • Some Netflix Originals are not available in all regions.
    • When some Netflix Originals were created, Netflix was only available in a small number of countries, so we did not secure the licensing rights for all global regions.
    • Despite the TV show or movie being a Netflix Original, other companies may have the rights to stream it due to content deals made prior to launching in that particular region.
    • Depending on the region, Netflix may not get the licensing rights for an original series for many years.

Some Netflix Originals that we do not yet have global licensing for include: Orange is the New Black, Arrested Development, and Lilyhammer.

How does Netflix know which TV shows and movies I’ll enjoy?

Netflix uses a variety of methods to help members find TV shows and movies they'll enjoy. Some methods are through the help of Netflix Ratings & Recommendations, others are less noticeable to our members.

Netflix uses metrics like viewing and searching habits to help determine which TV shows and movies we suggest to members, and which TV shows and movies we may want to license or acquire in the future.

How does Netflix do this?
Netflix pays attention to what people are actually doing and watching on Netflix to better understand what a member may enjoy and make personalized recommendations. Whether it’s looking at which new series you’re watching, how much of an episode you finish, what types of genres you tend to watch the most, or what language you prefer watching in, Netflix is constantly using our members' own preferences to offer up TV shows and movies we think they’ll love.

All the information Netflix looks at is kept private and used only to ensure that Netflix can better understand what each member enjoys -- so you spend less time searching and more time enjoying great titles on Netflix!

When will my favorite TV show or movie be available to watch on Netflix?

Though there is no set schedule for acquiring new content, we are constantly adding new titles for members to enjoy.

We update the New Arrivals page to let you know what's new on Netflix as soon as content becomes available for streaming. You can also take a look at Netflix on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram for more details on new arrivals and specific release dates.

What is a First Run Series, and why isn't the most recent episode available right away? When will it become available?

First Run Series are television series that Netflix makes available for streaming soon after their initial broadcast. When Netflix signs a First Run Series agreement, it guarantees that Netflix is the very first place you can watch a television show after it airs on its original broadcast network. While each First Run Series agreement is different, Netflix viewers can usually expect individual episodes of a First Run Series to become available one week after their initial broadcast.

Some things to keep in mind:

  • Not all agreements allow Netflix to stream a series in all regions, and First Run Series may not be available on Netflix in their original broadcast region.
  • In regions where Netflix makes individual episodes of a First Run Series available weekly, the series may be titled a Netflix Original.
    • For example, Better Call Saul is a Netflix Original series in all regions it is currently available, excluding the US and Canada.
  • The exact date a First Run Series becomes available on Netflix can vary, and is dependent upon the original broadcast schedule.
  • Some agreements allow all episodes of a season to become available at once, after the full season has aired in the original region through the original broadcaster.

Have a request for a TV show or movie? See Request TV shows or movies.