Video streaming and rental service Netflix has announced a new agreement with Universal Studios and with Twentieth Century Fox that will see the studios’ films available via Netflix 28 days after their initial DVD release, instead of on the same day as retail DVD availability. Under the deals, Netflix will also have a greater selection of movies and television shows from both studios it can make available for instant streaming to Netflix-capable devices (you know, like the iPad) and PCs.
The delayed availability on Netflix mirrors the company’s recent arrangement with Warner Bros., whose titles also have a 28 day delay between their retail release and availability on Netflix. The studios view the delay as a way to maximize their titles’ retail sales; the bulk of a title’s retail DVD sales come during its first weeks of availability.
Netflix is positioning the deals as a win for customers, claiming the windows of exclusivity means Netflix has lower costs and, perhaps more significantly, will have better availability of new titles once the windows of exclusivity close since it won’t be competing with retail inventory roll-out. In addition, the agreements should significant expand the amount of back-catalog movies and TV shows available for instant streaming. However, some Netflix subscribers may see the move as a disappointment: for instance, it means the first retail DVD release of Avatar, due to hit the streets on April 22, won’t be available to Netflix subscribers until May 20.
Netflix’s deal with Twentieth Century Fox also gives the studio the ability to determine its window of exclusivity on its content available both via DVDs sent via mail and via online streaming. “This new streaming partnership with Netflix affords Fox the necessary flexibility to effectively manage our overall product offering by determining the content and appropriate window relative to our other media offerings,” said Fox’s president for new media and digital distribution Peter Levinsohn, in a statement.
Warner Bros. also negotiated a 28-day availability delay with DVD kiosk outfit Redbox.
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