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Netflix fans sound off about Warner Bros. deal

Some are angry about the delay in getting new releases, but others see a bigger picture.

By Karen Datko Jan 7, 2010 4:28PM

Just when we were ready to ditch the satellite TV in favor of Netflix, news of this deal emerged: New releases from Warner Bros. studios won’t be available for rent through Netflix until 28 days after they go on sale.

 

We had to wonder: Does that reduce the value of Netflix for us? What do some of Netflix’s 11 million subscribers think?

 

Some movie fans are not happy.

Lots of Netflix subscribers expressed their displeasure on Twitter, Greg Sandoval observed at CNET News. He added: “The naysayers may want to consider, however, that to secure content for its streaming service, which is undoubtedly the company's future, Netflix is going to have to either pay through the nose or find some other way to compensate the studios.”

 

In other words, unless you’d prefer your $9-a-month subscription to go up, don’t complain. In fact, be grateful.

Here’s the deal: Netflix agreed to delay access to new Warner Bros. releases in exchange for better prices and more copies of WB DVDs and the right to stream more of the studio’s films via the Internet to your computer, TV or a growing variety of devices. That's an increasingly popular option for Netflix users, who otherwise get Netflix DVDs in the mail. Meanwhile, Warner Bros. gets more time to sell new releases.  About three-quarters of all sales are made within a month of a new movie’s release on disc, and DVD sales are in decline.

 

This arrangement is not expected to be an isolated event. More such deals are on the horizon.

“It works for Netflix because they’re able to buy more copies and have more availability (of titles),” Kevin Tsujihara, president of Warner’s home entertainment group, told The Financial Times. “From our perspective it gives us a new window for sales and other higher margin transactions.”

 

Netflix subscribers do have options.

  • Buy the new release. Frugal readers, that’s advisable only if you’ve already seen the film or otherwise know  that you’ll still enjoy it after multiple viewings.
  • Rent it from a video store or through video-on-demand.
  • Be patient, and appreciate your good fortune. In my opinion, the more streaming content, the better, and a one-month delay isn't going to kill anyone,” John Gholson wrote at Cinematica. “The titles will still be out there for sale and rent, and I think most Netflix users usually have so much to watch in their queue that the one-month delay will zip by in no time.”

Exactly, said PastaPadre reader “CrimsonVoodoo.” “My damn Netflix list is so damn long as it is I'll probably die of old age before I ever get to them all. This has zero impact on me, and I'd guess most movie watchers.”

 

We’re with NPR’s Linda Holmes on this: If we were so crazy about a film, we'd likely see it in the theater or buy it regardless of how long it takes to become part of the Netflix collection. She added:

The question will come down to the market value of avoiding a 28-day delay on a movie that the consumer would otherwise not buy, so let me ask you this: Assuming we are talking about movies you would not buy anyway, what would you pay to get hold of a movie 28 days sooner?

What do you think about this deal?

 

Related reading:

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