Anglophiles of America, now's the time to stand up and proclaim your love of the BBC. Or not. The latest online TV panic centers on a rumor that, with the end of their current contract on Jan. 31, Netflix and the BBC will part ways — trapping Doctor Who in a parallel (UK) universe, smuggling Luther out in his big coat and causing Top Gear to drive away. A few other favorites, though, including Sherlock, are not currently on any list of expiring titles.
The panic comes courtesy of the What's on Netflix Now blog, which lists 23 BBC shows under its latest Best of What's Leaving entry. While it's true that the Netflix-BBC contract is expiring this month, it's also true that the two companies can negotiate a new contract. Even What's on Netflix Now points that out, writing, "According to sources elsewhere, Netflix is apparently hard at work trying to hammer out a new agreement with the BBC so that these shows can be renewed soon." The post continues, "…considering that series are fast becoming Netflix's bread and butter…it would be crazy of them to let all these programs expire for good."
There is however, a chance that protracted negotiations may mean the shows are offline for a few days or weeks.
With the boom in US interest for BBC titles, lead by Doctor Who, Sherlock, Top Gear and others, chances seem good that Netflix will find a way to keep them on. But just to be safe, you can contact Netflix by phone, chat or online form to let them know how much you will miss your BBC fix.
And should the worst happen, you still have options. The $8-per-month Hulu Plus offers an extensive selection of BBC titles. Then there's the recording route. A service called PlayLater, starting at $20 per year, allows you to queue up shows from online streaming sites, including Netflix, and download copies to your hard drive. PlayLater claims that this is legal under copyright law, though we haven't independently confirmed it.
Hopefully, Netflix and the BBC will come together and keep the shows flowing. Because if they don't, there is a tiny chance it just may tear apart the fabric of space-time.