Update 12/15/2016: We double-checked with Netflix today, and while they can’t directly tell us “Yes! We promise ‘The West Wing’ will not be removed!” The comment was essentially, “We don’t plan on removing ‘The West Wing at this time.”
Now that could mean the content owner might pull the plug, or the content negotiations could overlap and the series could be removed for a few days/weeks, but we fully expect ‘The West Wing’ to remain on Netflix for at least a while longer.
We also had a quick chat with their customer support team to verify, and that team also seems to believe the show will remain a Netflix staple:
A small panic occurred this week, when several readers noticed that ‘The West Wing’ had an expiration date on its Netflix profile page. The Netflix app currently shows that the series is set to expire December 25th, 2015. What a terrible Christmas gift…
But ‘The West Wing’ is a staple series on Netflix, often showing up as one of the highest rated shows streaming instantly on the service, so if Netflix removes it, certainly there will be a panic. However, we confirmed with Netflix on the list of what’s leaving the service in December that ‘The West Wing’ is NOT being removed, or if it is taken off instant stream, it is likely only a temporary removal.
So why is there an expiration date on ‘The West Wing’s’ profile page? Well, a bit of a perpetual oversight on Netflix’s part and a relatively common occurrence that causes a stir with regular frequency.
First, a quick background. All third party content on Netflix is signed under a contract that extends a specific amount of time. For example, Netflix will purchase the rights to stream a show like ‘The West Wing’ for one year, and at the end of the contract, the rights to the content are re-negotiated. Often the contracts are simply re-signed, but sometimes Netflix pulls the plug if the content isn’t drawing in subscribers, or if the content owners raise the rates of the content streaming rights making it too expensive to renew. Other times the content owners will just pull the rights themselves in order to maintain exclusive rights to distribution.
With that in mind, Netflix isn’t about to let the contract with ‘The West Wing’ expire. According to sources at Netflix, ‘The West Wing’ is merely undergoing normal renewal discussions, and will very likely reach a new contract before the current contract expires next month. Even if the show is removed, users should expect it back shortly thereafter.
So never fear, fans of ‘The West Wing,’ you’ll still be able to re-watch the series for the eighth go-around next year sometime, and for those of you who are still putting it off, you’ll still have at least another year to do so.