Netflix’s (NFLX) Internet movie streaming service just cleared a big hurdle: It’s finally gotten a big deal so the company can stream big-name, relatively new movies you might actually want to watch — for free — to computers and partners’ set-top boxes.
Via a new deal with Starz, announced this morning, Netflix subscribers get access to movies from Disney (DIS) and Sony’s (SNE) Columbia and Revolution Studios, like “Superbad,” “No Country For Old Men,” and “Ratatouille.” This is a big step for Netflix, whose streaming library was pretty pitiful.
The movies will be available during the pay TV viewing window — 10 months or so after the movies start playing in theatres, and 5-6 months after they come out on DVD — but that’s better than nothing. (Crucially, that also means it won’t affect Netflix’s DVD business much — or studios’ DVD sales.) Netflix will now have about 15,000 titles in its streaming library, including 2,500 from the Starz deal.
How to build that library even bigger? More deals. Starz exec Eric Becker tells us that subscription-based streaming rights are held by premium TV networks… like Starz. So Netflix would need to strike a deal with Time Warner’s (TWX) HBO to stream movies from Dreamworks, Fox, Warner Brothers, and Universal. (Meanwhile, former Showtime partners Paramount, MGM, and Lionsgate are working on their own pay TV venture.)
Unclear: How excited HBO or the new venture would be to get in bed with Netflix, or whether individual studios like Dreamworks could opt out of the deals.
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