DreamWorks Animation has signed a multi-year deal to produce more than 300 hours of original programming for Netflix Inc.
Under the terms of the agreement, DreamWorks Animation, creator of “Shrek,” “Kung Fu Panda” and “Madagascar” franchises, will develop shows for Netflix based on its own past and upcoming feature films. DreamWorks Animation will also use the Classic Media library it acquired as a resource. That library includes the characters Casper the Friendly Ghost, Rocky and Bullwinkle, and Mr. Peabody and Sherman.
The agreement marks the largest deal for original first-run content in Netflix history and also is the first time DreamWorks Animation’s characters will be introduced into the television market as a branded collection of shows.
The Glendale studio already produces TV specials and series based on its movies for Cartoon Network and Nickelodeon and is eager to further expand its television production as part of a strategy to become less reliant on animated feature films. Last month, DreamWorks Animation acquired the YouTube teen network AwesomenessTV for $33 million in cash with plans to develop a digital family channel using the studio’s library of characters.
Netflix is expected to begin airing the new animated series in 2014 throughout its global service, which spans more than 36 million subscribers in 40 countries.
“This is an unprecedented commitment to original content in the Internet television space,” DreamWorks Animation Chief Executive Officer Jeffrey Katzenberg said in a statement. “Netflix is a visionary company that continues to redefine the way audiences watch television and it is a thrill to add to their growing momentum.”
“DreamWorks Animation is a valued partner in our global efforts to provide families the most engaging stories delivered however, whenever and wherever they want,” Netflix Chief Content Officer Ted Sarandos said. “This deal represents a major expansion of what’s already a phenomenal relationship, allowing us to bring beloved DreamWorks characters to the 40 countries where Netflix operates and setting the stage for us to innovate together as we expand into new markets.”
The streaming service has been spening heavily on original programming. This year, it launched the new drama “House of Cards” and new episodes of the cult comedy “Arrested Development."
Kids programming has proven to be popular on Netflix. It needs fresh content in part because it did not renew a deal it had with Viacom for reruns of shows from its popular kids cable channel Nickelodeon.
The companies announced this year that DreamWorks would produce the first original animated series for Netflix based on the movie “Turbo.” The series will debut in December after the July release of the film, about a snail obsessed with speed.
Also coming exclusively to Netflix in the U.S. and Latin America next year will be DreamWorks Animation feature films, beginning with “The Croods," which grossed more than $575 million at the worldwide box office, followed by “Turbo,” and the big-screen adaptation of Mr. Peabody and Sherman, which opens in theaters in March.