After spending a few months delighting Netflix Watch Instantly-using cinephiles, high-fallutin’ DVD/Blu-ray label The Criterion Collection is packing up its stuff and moving out to new digs. A sizable selection of Criterion titles have been available via the Watch Instantly service since 2009, but the company announced its departure via Facebook, its sights now set on partnering with a new streaming content provider: Hulu.
In a similar announcement, Hulu revealed the partnership on its own blog. Hulu Plus subscribers will be pleased to learn that the site has secured the rights to more than 800 films in the Criterion library. The initial launch added 150+ movies to the service yesterday, including French New Wave director Francois Truffaut’s Jules et Jim and acclaimed Japanese filmmaker Akira Kurosawa’s Rashomon and Seven Samurai.
In announcing the Netflix departure, Criterion praised Hulu’s ease of use over the competition. “It has never been easy to find Criterion movies on Netflix — ‘Criterion’ is not even a searchable term there,” the Facebook posting read. “Compare that with Hulu’s willingness to develop a whole area of their site around us, brand the films associated with us, and develop the capability to show many of our supplements alongside our films.”
Access to Criterion supplements is a big deal, as the premium-priced DVD/Blu-ray releases under the label are known for their top-notch digital transfer and abundance of quality bonus content. It certainly makes the arrival of Criterion titles on Hulu more exciting than it was on Netflix, whose Watch Instantly service does not offer such luxuries.