DirecTV Pays Studios To Help Confuse Customers Further

from the restrictions-may-apply dept

The film studios have convinced Netflix to sign deals that expand the company's access to streaming film licenses -- in exchange for agreeing to delay new releases by 28 days. Studios, of course, think this will somehow magically ramp up user purchases of physical DVDs, though it seems the primary result is going to be a lot of confused consumers, who see new releases for rent in one place, but not in another. But the studios are likely quite pleased with themselves, given the deal gives them more license negotiation power -- and allows them to charge companies more money if they want a perceived leg up on Netflix. If nobody is willing to pay, the studios figure they've still managed to create a wider delay window (the exact opposite of what should be happening in the broadband age).

But Blockbuster quickly jumped at the opportunity, throwing money at the studios, not only to avoid the new release delay, but so they could use the opportunity to mock Netflix instead of having to innovate. DirecTV has also now decided to play along, and will be paying for the honor of offering new releases under the "DirecTV Cinema" brand. Like Blockbuster, it didn't take DirecTV long to brag that unlike Netflix or Redbox, they'll be getting Avatar the same day it hits store shelves:

"As many as 400 new movies will be available this summer through DirecTV Cinema. Titles from Universal Studios Home Entertainment, Twentieth Century Fox and Time Warner Inc.'s Warner Bros. will be given to DirecTV subscribers 28 days before they can be rented on Netflix, said Paul Guyardo, DirecTV's chief sales and marketing officer"
Granted this might not hurt Netflix much, given the fact that DirecTV agreements with the studios ban them from offering subscription service, so if users want these new releases -- they have to pay between $4.99 and $5.99 per title -- nearly the cost of a Netflix subscription. You also had better hurry up and watch your movie, given that under a 2008 DirecTV agreement with the studios, movies you store on your DVR will be automatically deleted after 24 hours. While the studios think layering restriction upon restriction onto how, where and when customers can consume their product is helping them save the traditional DVD -- all they're really doing is delaying the inevitable death of physical media, annoying and confusing customers, and making it harder for people to consume their product.

Filed Under: movies, release windows
Companies: directv, netflix

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  1. identicon
    JEDIDIAH, 21 Apr 2010 @ 2:59pm

    Re: Timing

    Netflix can let me add a movie to my queue as soon as they want. They don't have to wait until it's actually shipping. They could offer a (send it when you get it) sort of option (and might do that already). Netflix isn't a realtime service. So it doesn't matter so much what the studio timeline is. It's much like the Tivo in this respect.

    If I were that hot about a movie, I would pre-order it from Amazon.

    I am "processing" one of those right now infact.

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