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.