Netflix Agrees To Delay Fox And Universal New Releases, Annoy Avatar Fans

from the let's-make-it-harder-for-the-consumer-to-access-our-product dept

Netflix recently decided it would be a good idea to strike a deal with Warner Brothers that involved delaying all new Warner Brothers releases by 28 days. Film industry executives somehow believe this strategy is going to help them sell more DVDs, though as we’ve been discussing, the deal as designed seems just as likely to confuse the hell out of consumers as it tries (and fails) to prop up less innovative companies. Why would Netflix agree to such a deal? It was the only way they could get Hollywood to loosen their vice-like licensing grip on the number of titles they allow Netflix to stream via broadband.

Of course the deal doesn’t apply to Blockbuster, who ponied up the cash to the studios so they can apparently mock Netflix and Redbox in advertisements instead of actually innovating. None of this, including the fact that Netflix is facing a class action lawsuit, has apparently fazed Netflix or the studios — as Netflix has now signed similar delayed-release deals with both Twentieth Century Fox and Unviersal Studios. As with the Warner Brothers arrangement, this will ramp up Netflix’s access to both studios’ libraries for streaming, though it looks like it won’t necessarily save Netflix any money:

Netflix says its deal with Universal will give it the "benefits of reduced product costs;" it does not make a similar assertion about Fox. Both deals do however let Netflix build up its instant-streaming catalogue. Fox, for instance, says it will make all prior seasons of several hit TV series, including 24, Bones and King of the Hill, available to Netflix instant-streaming subscribers, while Universal says it is doing the same with some "premium domestic titles," like Gosford Park.

Not too surprisingly, the press release announcing the deal tries to pretend that the deal is about "providing consumers with attractive options" when it does the exact opposite. Netflix goes on to insist that by restricting how consumers can consume studio content, they’re actually making film delivery more "flexible" and "convenient" and that the deal is just "a win all around."

Granted, Netflix customers who really only use Netflix’s streaming service may not care about this, especially if they’re not all that interested in new releases. Still, that doesn’t make keeping your product out of customer hands any smarter of a business plan when you’re trying to compete with piracy. One of the first major titles to be impacted by the deal will be Avatar, which thanks to this "convenient" deal won’t be available on Netflix in any form until 28 days after its April 22 street release date. Customers annoyed by that delay might go buy the DVD, or hey, they might just go download it via Bit Torrent, where they aren’t forced to wait for no particularly good reason.

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Companies: fox, netflix, universal

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Comments on “Netflix Agrees To Delay Fox And Universal New Releases, Annoy Avatar Fans”

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jsl4980 (profile) says:

Queues > 28 days

I’m annoyed to hear about the deals that Netflix makes, but my queue has more movies in it today than I could watch in 28 days since it takes 2 days to get the next DVD through the mail.

Increasing their streaming catalog is the best thing they can do and that’s a great business model. I only talk to a few other Netflix users and they all agree that they don’t use Netflix to get new releases as soon as they’re released. If anything this delay will make them forget about those movies. Bad for studios, no big deal to Netflix.

Davad (profile) says:

Re: Queues > 28 days

I am on the one disk at a time plan so I can stream. If this agreement makes more content available through streaming, then I can wait a few more days for new movies. Heck, with all the steaming and new web content out there now ( and others anyone?) I have to practically schedule time to walk to the DVD player and manually load a disk. Makes me sooo tired.

Casey says:


“Of course the deal doesn’t apply to Blockbuster, who ponied up the cash to the studios so they can apparently mock Netflix and Redbox in advertisements instead of actually innovating.”

Ok, I don’t understand why BB paying the studios is considered a bad thing. I would think that BB now has a competitive advantage with the ability to get the new releases of the DVDs in consumers’ hands almost one month before the other two competitors. If they have the cash to make them more competitive, and (easily?) gain market share, why do they need to expend the time and resources right now to “innovate”? It seems to be some BB hate, with no good reason.

— Casey

(Not affiliated with Blockbuster in anyway, not even as a customer)

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Blockbuster

how dare you suggest that a company DOESN’T have to reinvent the wheel to have a chance at making any money. Just providing a similar service with more, better features at a competitive price is silly! They need to figure out a way to incorporate an open-source toaster, an unpatented office item, and a voting machine in their provided service if they want to have a remote chance!

Derek Kerton (profile) says:

Re: Re: Blockbuster

Yeah. And if they paid the milk producers for the exclusive right to sell milk, that would be good, too.

And if they control retail, they could refuse to sell milk on weekends, that might raise the perceived value and scarcity, so they could sell it for more on weekdays. Or just raise prices to infer fake scarcity. Hey, it’s their right to experiment.

I mean, the world works better with exclusive retail deals, right? True for movies, true for milk, true for all. Competition at the customer-facing level be damned!


m3mnoch (profile) says:

Re: Blockbuster

it’s a “bad thing” for them because no late fees is a bigger consumer boon than a 20% shorter delayed release.

and, it’s a “bad thing” for them because instant-play convenience is a bigger consumer boon than a 20% shorter delayed release.

finally, it’s a “bad thing” for them because an enormous, long-tail catalog is a bigger consumer boon than a 20% shorter delayed release.


Hephaestus (profile) says:

I am sporting some serious Holly Wood over this ...

It an amazing thing the quarterly report. It drives executives to try for as much profit in this quarter and have no reguard for what their actions will cause in the future. People are creatures of habits and tend not to change services they are familiar with. This 28 day change isnt going to drive more people to purchase or rent from BlockBusted. It will however lead to more people using BitTorrent and other methods to infringe. Short term they might see a pop, long term this is the same sort of methodology used by the Record labels to destroy themselves.

I often wonder if the consultants used by the video industry are the same ones used by the record labels.

Another AC says:

As much as I don't like it...

This really doesn’t affect me, since I don’t go to the movies or torrent, a 1 day or 30 day “New release” is really the same to me. Netflix is positioning themselves the way they need to so that when the day comes to axe physical media, they will be prepared.

There are worse things that companies have done to piss me off. If I really really really want to see a movie without waiting, I will find another less convenient or more expensive means (neither of which ever really happen).

mjb5406 (profile) says:

Run Out to Buy

Oh, yes… I plan to run out immediately and buy a copy of the movie since I’ll otherwise have to wait 28 days to rent it from Netflix or get it from Redbox.


It’s becoming clear that there is collusion between the Hollywood studios, Blockbuster and the cable companies (who are allowed to put movies on their OnDemand services the same day the DVD is released) to prevent Netflix and Redbox from providing consumers a choice. That doesn’t excuse Netflix for being stupid… but you can bet that, in addition to the 28 day window, the agreement forces Netflix to play nice-nice and not berate the frakking studios. I hope Redbox doesn’t roll over like Netflix did and sure the studios for as much as they can get from them. It would serve those pompous-assed studio execs right.

Jupiter (profile) says:

Netflix win

Streaming is the future and Netflix knows it. My queue has so many streamable movies that I could watch nothing else for the next six months and be quite happy – and by then I’d probably have another six months worth of movies built up in the queue. What in the hell do we need to send little discs through the mail for?

Streaming will put a quick end to piracy too. If I can stream any movie any time I want, why would I bother filling my hard drive with a pirated copy? And instead of making a copy for a friend, I just tell them it’s streaming on Netflix and they can go click the play button themselves.

Anyone too cheap to pay the minimum Netflix subscription fee is never going to give Hollywood much money anyway. Hollywood, get a clue. Netflix has it figured out.

Big Mook (profile) says:

Re: Netflix win

I don’t entirely disagree. But, I still need “little discs through the mail” in order to get the movie in its best home format, BluRay. While DVD quality is OK, BD is best if your TV is bigger than 42″. In my case, that would be 65″. Now, the problem may be that I’m streaming Netflix via my Wii, and it only offers standard def, but I haven’t heard anywhere that HD content is being offered to the PS3, Roku, XBox, etc. Somebody please correct me if I’m wrong about that.

Netflix streaming is awesome, but as long as it’s not hi-def, then I am still going to want the BluRay disc for certain titles.

RD says:

Re: Re: Netflix win

“but I haven’t heard anywhere that HD content is being offered to the PS3, Roku, XBox, etc. Somebody please correct me if I’m wrong about that.”

You are wrong about that. Netflix is most definitely streaming HD stuff to set-top and gaming devices. Now, mind you, not everything is HD, so your bluray method is probably best for now. But the stuff that is HD on netflix looks amazing. I have a 46″ TV and even at the present 720p level they are streaming at (netflix plans to up to 1080p soon), it looks incredible compared to DVD. They are adding more and more stuff in HD, so I would imagine eventually most things will be offered in HD streaming.

Big Mook (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re: Netflix win

Good to know. Now I have to start working on the wife so I can justify buying either a BD-Live player, or better yet, a PS3 or XBox-360.

But that also brings up another problem. I don’t see anywhere on the Netflix site that you can tell whether the streaming version is offered in HD or SD. Again, please correct me as needed, which is usually all the time.

RD says:

Re: Re: Re:2 Netflix win

“But that also brings up another problem. I don’t see anywhere on the Netflix site that you can tell whether the streaming version is offered in HD or SD. Again, please correct me as needed, which is usually all the time.”

That is a very good point. On the website, there is no indication if something is in HD. I know a show like Heroes or Legend of the Seeker are in HD. I can see the indicator for it on my xbox when I go to the show in the list, but it doesnt show any of that on the actual website itself. This would be a good thing to send in a request/complaint to netflix for.

Jupiter (profile) says:

Re: Re: Netflix win

The transition to HD will take time. Netflix will probably mailing out BluRay discs for years.

How about instead of a Wii or Roku, you just plug a real computer into your TV? I got a $350 Dell Zino and it works great – plus turns my TV into a giant monitor where I can do everything a computer can do – about the same price as a PS3. I use it every day and stream Netflix straight from it.

Rk says:

Re: Re: Netflix win

Many series, (IE: Bones, one of my personal favorites) stream in HD via Xbox 360 as of June 1st(No idea about before hand)

Just watched the entire series, 110 episodes(season six yet to be released) in HD quality on a 72’incher.

Was quite pleased and disappointed due to no season six.

Off to BitTorrents I go!

Overcast (profile) says:

Think I’ll hang out at the park, play video games, swing by the library for a good book and not really give a rat’s ass about what Hollywood does.

Not worth the time to download it, nor is it worth the cost to buy it for inflated amounts.

It’ll be on On-Demand eventually, and maybe I’ll watch it. Already seen it at the cinema anyway. I was going to go this last weekend, but spent the cash on a new game and food to grill out.

Freedom says:

Long term?

I normally agree with Mike, but on this one I might disagree. DVD Mail Rentals is very similar to comparing pager service with cell phones. It will become a smaller and smaller niche market.

Giving up something in a niche shrinking market for something in a growing market (video streaming) seems like a fairly smart move over the long run. It is actually nice to see Netflix think about the long term instead of the short term in this case.

I’ve also noticed that explosion of movie kiosks lately. Literally at every convienence store there is either a Blockbuster Box or Red Box now in my town. If you are Netflix and believe the future is streaming, and most folks now have access to cheap $1 nightly rentals, you can see why they are trying to think two steps ahead of everyone else.

Time will tell, but I think if they got something significant in the streaming market than they get two thumbs up from me.


P.S. I’ve cancelled both my NetFlix and BB subscriptions a few months ago (yes, I had both). With the amount of content online (legal and illegal), at kiosks, etc., it just doesn’t make sense to pay a monthly fee any longer. Just as with music, if Netflix can build a significant library of ‘convienence’ they’ll eventually get me back as a streaming customer.


My view

Well I’ll do my part to voice my opinion by not buying Avatar. I loved the movie, seen it twice in the movies but the only thing this deal does is either make me pay for a DVD because the service I pay for monthly can’t provide it to me.

What’s sad is I WAS planning to buy Avatar but I feel at this point I’ll show the studios how I feel about this. And while it’s only $20.00 if enough people feel like I do I’m sure they will get the point. If not oh well.

PassinThru (profile) says:

This won't work like the studios think

It’s a good move for Netflix. Apparently the studios think that rather than wait a month for a new release on disc, somehow all the Netflix subscribers will go out an buy it. I suspect that after 6 months of this, they’ll realize they gave Netflix a deal that worked out great for Netflix, but didn’t provide the studios with the profit bump they were expecting.

Netflix streaming is great. My only complaint has been the weak selection available. If they can increase this, all the better.

And the physical media death spiral continues…

JohnF (profile) says:

Digial is the future for Netflix

Piracy has been an attractive option because it gives (almost) immediate access to the content. But much content is not available, certainly not for old classics that weren’t offered on DVD. Hopefully Netflix will gain access to those. While the studios are missing out on an opportunity (don’t they always shoot themselves in the foot?) there are some good things in the Netflix deal.

Value #1: I don’t mind the 28-day delay since I can get more content options. While not everything available on BT is in the Netflix catalog, adding more options is always a good thing.

Value #2: The BB and RB kiosks are only gonna have the latest and greatest, and not nearly the selection that Netflix can offer for immediate download and no extra cash from my pocket than what I already budgeted. Sure, I can get a BB subscription, but I really don’t ever need to be the first on my block to see a new release.

Value #3: My Tivo is already able to download from Netflix (and BB and Amazon), I think the XBox and PS3 also can do this, so Netflix is building up streaming to a good assortment of boxes already connected to your TV. Again, no additional out-of-pocket spend to dual-purpose my device.

It won’t be long before the media industry catches on to making all content available for viewing whenever the consumer wants to see it. If I want to watch a movie from 1939, and they get a cut from it, that’s money that they would be not be getting by keeping it locked up. Maybe it isn’t (or wasn’t) a popular title, so what? Making it available makes it possible to profit from it.

We’ve got the mechanisms in place, all they need to do is open up their content, which has been THE biggest problem all along. They aren’t completely solving it here, but it seems like a step in the proper direction.

Anonymous Coward says:

Since January 1, not one illegal download, not one rental, not one paid DVD or CD. The entertainment industry is dead to me. I don’t need them and they don’t need me and that is good.

I’m teaching everybody I know how to find entertainment freedom. Would they try to pass laws forcing me to watch or listen to them now?


Anonymous Coward says:

Oddly enough

The recent deal with Netflix and WB/Fox/Universal isn’t that big of a deal to me. If a movie wasn’t good enough to go see in the theater, I can wait an extra month to go see it for no additional cost. Only 15 more days till I think about renting Holmes. BTW anyone know if blockbuster has seen a jump or it every one just went to amazon video on demand?

Steve R. (profile) says:

Memory Gone

Delaying a movie DVD movie release means less sales and rentals. By the time some of these movies come out, I have forgotten which ones I wanted to watch anyway. Obviously, this demonstrates how transient consumer demand can be.

As a Blockbuster follow-up, were we live they have shortened the rental period and re-imposed the “late” fee which the call something else as an Newspeak attempt to hide what they are doing.

Anonymous Coward says:

I might be in the minority, but I think this is win-win.

Netflix isn’t growing their subscriber base through plastic disks anymore.They are growing it through streaming to set-top boxes. If this deal increases streaming options, I win. If Netflix gets more subscribers, they win.

If it simultaneously decreases costs for Netflix, great. I want them to stay in business. Netflix instant view eliminates cable tv for me. That’s a $50+ bill down to a $9 bill.

I want a forward thinking company like Netflix to eventually have the heft to push other companies into streaming everything.

R. Miles (profile) says:

It was just a matter of time.

Now that the big 3 movie studios are done, Netflix will now be left making idiotic deals like this with the smaller companies.

I’d love to see the numbers on Avatar when it’s released. How many are purchased, rented, and of course, downloaded illegally.

Sadly, there’s no way to track this, but I’ve a feeling the latter will be the winner. After all, it’s the highest grossing film ever. Why should people have to pay for it… again.

Anonymous Coward says:

here is the thing with netflix. i don’t use netflix because i want the newest release OMG NOW. i doubt many people out there do. i use netflix because it is significantly more conveinet than blockbuster ever was.

the news here is that more movies will be offered streaming. netflix knows that this is the future, and more importantly knows that this is what we customers want.

i understand the spin that this delay is somehow bad for us netflix customers, but really it isn’t. netflix is giving a little (really, what is 30 days on one movie when you have 100 years of movies to choose from) and getting a lot (more streaming).

Besides if you OMG NEED a movie the day it comes out, chances are you are going to buy it, not rent it.

i am willing to be patient if it means i get more out of the deal. more out of the deal is my reason to buy.

Bubba Gump (profile) says:

as an avid Netflix streaming user...

I have to say that I don’t care about new releases AT ALL. I just want to have a bigger selection. Whatever Netflix can do to make that happen is fine by me.

Wait 28 days for Avatar? Who cares! Watch every TV show I ever wanted on demand? Wunderbar!

I watched 4 seasons of The Office in 1 week. Yes, I nearly died of laughter!

Anonymous Coward says:

Streaming vs. New Releases?

So the studios forced Netflix to choose between more streaming and new releases. They chose more streaming. Good job, Netflix, for bringing me so much awesome streaming. Bad job, studios, for making a decade old television show more valuable to me than your brand-new multi-million dollar movies.

Netflix made the right choice, but it was crappy that Hollywood made them make that choice.

Emilio says:

On the bright side,

Yeah, you have to get your discs in the mail on the Saturday morning before a Tuesday release to have any chance of getting new titles… If you miss that, you can wait as long as 6 to 8 weeks for disc availability go from ‘extremely long wait’ to ‘very long wait’ to ‘short wait’ to ‘available now’ with the speed of frozen corn syrup…
This move will reduce the number of people willing to wait. They’ll just download it instead and pull it off their que, reducing demand and, if anything, reducing my wait by a few days. On the other hand, if this makes more old TV series available commercial-free, I’m all for it.

Anonymoose says:

Blockbluster isn't the only one advertising the 'new window'...

Comcast is also running ‘we have it before netflix’ style commercials on new releases (most recently, Sherlock Holmes). “It’s not in your mailbox, but it IS on Comcast onDemand”.. guess what Comcast, you’re right. You are a much better delivery vehicle for new releases. Internet trumps postal service, to BitTorrent. Way to go HWood.

Jim says:

Idiots. the end result will be nothing, little gain for the movie producers. If I am a netflix subscriber who doesn’t buy videos and has to wait in a queue to get new movies then there is no difference to me if the queue becomes a month longer. it will make me reassess my relationship with netflix, but I sure as hell will not be suddenly buying videos.

Darryl says:

Companies can do what they like

It’s their product after all, if a company chooses to NOT make something available in one form or another, or to determine the time the product is released that’s their RIGHT.

It’s not up to you to think they do everything just for you, they dont. They have every right to do what they like with that product.

And just because they do not make that product immediately available to you in a form you want, well thats your bad luck.

You have no right to demand that they do anything else, it’s their product after all they can do what they like with it.

ANd just because it’s not immediately available to you in a form you want does not give you the right, morally or legally to steal it, by steal it I mean illegally download it, or to break a lock and remove a physical DVD from a shop.

There is no difference, it’s still physical theft.

So the world does not relvolve around you, and every company does not exist to make you happy, get over it.
And welcome to the real world, it’s clear you have little or no real life experience, and have never tried to run a business and feed a family.. Mabey im wrong, this is just based on you’re attitude and comments.

Anonymous Coward says:

Why aren’t filmmakers pissed off at this?

I had a Blockbuster right next to my neighborhood. Even though I subscribe to Netflix I would still check movies out sometimes.

They closed that store. Now the closest is about a half-hour round trip drive.

So now instead of renting Avatar on Netflix I won’t rent it at all. Good work!

moviedude says:

Re: Re:

If you don’t have a Blockbuster or other video store nearby, consider joining Blockbuster Total Access By Mail maybe? At least they have plenty of new releases and the price is the same as Netflix.

You won’t get Netflix’s streaming content but most of that you can just get on cable re-runs and use your DVR to collect it.

Blockbuster new releases are $3 for the first night and $1 daily rental fee thereafter. Paying $1-2 more to see new releases from Blockbuster where available vs. Redbox, when they’re still new is something I don’t terribly mind because it makes me happy. I personally have seen all the old stuff I care to and Netflix just doesn’t work for me. Works for many but everyone’s needs are different and my needs can’t be met by Redbox or Netflix.

Mike says:

Stupid Hollywood

Honestly, delaying the DVD release through netflix isn’t going to make me go out and buy it. More than likely the reason I have it in my queue is because I haven’t seen the movie yet, and with the crap the Hollywood puts out these days I’m not buying a movie before I see it. And secondly if I am buying a movie I’ll wait a year or so when Target or Walmart sells it for 10 bucks or less.

parlay1 (profile) says:


I doubt Netflix was worried about ticking off most of the posters I have seen in this thread who obviously have tons of experience being Snotty nose punk thieves, So you stomp your feet and threaten to go home and take your ball too! Big deal, you were probably doing your part to destroy an industry anyway. Grow up and maybe think about paying for something instead of stealing it, there are still a few mom and pop stores out there who ACTUALLY EMPLOY local youngsters like you! The only ones worse for the Movie industry then Netflix and Redbox are the internet thieves, hopefully the industry will someday come up with some new technology to block all the pirating.

moonwolf22 (profile) says:

I've been flixed

I’ve had a Netflix subscription for over two years now. I came across this site when I googled “Netflix Avatar release date”. The reason for the google? A friend of mine had rented and watched Avatar the other night. I wondered how he could have when my Netflix queue had a 5-22-10 release date. As Paul Harvey eloquently put it “Now you know the rest of the story”.

This totally sucks. When it does become available, if I don’t send in my disks at the right time, I’ll probably have “A very long wait” showing up in the movie’s availability slot, and have to wait yet another month just to see it.

It seems that many Netflix subscribers are Netflix streamers, as am I. However, I prefer to watch movies with a blue ray disc on my 1080p HD TV and listen in true surround sound (5.1 Dolby). My Internet connection is below that with which Netflix deems necessary to stream movies in HD. The movies I can watch are on par most times with a standard DVD, but the sound is only 2 channel stereo. Add the fact that you don’t have the “extras” to watch as you do on a disc, the viewing experience just isn’t the same.

I will be looking into what Block Buster has to offer. Or maybe cancel my Netflix subscription and go back to renting the “old fashion way” at the local video store.

Nasay says:


I stream netflix on my sweet iPhone, heck no I won’t go to b buster I will just find a *** ******* and watch another netflix vid while I wait. If I want to buy a movie, then I will buy the movie. Doing this will only piss me off and I still won’t buy it, especially not now. Unless ofc I was going to buy it anyways, which has nothing to do with all this horse crap ucktardedness. It’s not that I don’t have the bling, I just don’t buy crap or give companies money I think are crap. But hey if it’s out on netflix then sure I will check out robin hood, new nightmare, iron man 2, etc.. Buy them? He’ll no, as if.

Freddy says:

Wanted to see the new elm street before Halloween and it just came out and I found out netflix doesn’t have it because of this B.S. Will I go buy it now?? Lofl are u serious? Switch to blockbuster when I already love and stream from netflix? Shiver me timbers no!! Well maybe if the 1 buck box they have at publix has it easily available…..maaaaybe. But chances are the ol’ colors will be cast a’high and a plunderin’ I shall go.

blondie says:

Netflix delay

Wow, I am amazed at how impatient people are. I have no problem with Netflix. I get 2 movies a week delivered and watch streaming whenever I feel like it. It doesn’t matter to me if I can’t watch a particular movie the minute it comes out. I have plenty of other movies to watch. If it is really that important to see a movie that fast then go see it in the theater.

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