A Gritskrieg Rant: Warner Nixes Netflix for 28 days on new releases

With the fairly recent inclusion of a Netflix application added to the functionality of the Xbox 360, I’ve been streaming a fair amount of content to my living room. Movies, TV shows, more movies… And I’ve taken advantage of the DVD rentals as well, catching up on some movies I missed and more TV shows that I didn’t catch when they originally aired. Since they’re mailed straight to my home, I can skip the whole putting on pants thing to get a new movie.

I’m mentioning this because of a recent development. Warner Bros. has “negotiated” an agreement with Netflix that requires 28 days before new releases from WB is allowed to be shipped in DVD format or streamed to your home. It may not be the end of the world but it certainly raises some concerns for me.

You can look at the numbers for how the Netflix and related services have affected DVD piracy. You can look at the numbers and see how more people are renting DVDs even if they’re not going to the local video rental outlet to get them. By looking at the numbers, you can see that services like Netflix or even Red Box are doing exactly what Hollywood wanted… Getting more people to pay to see movies instead of illegally downloading them or buying pirated copies.

But Warner Bros. wants to be sure and “capitalize” on their new movie releases. The thought behind the process is that more people will buy the movies if they aren’t immediately available for rental through Netflix. I’m no expert but this sounds like they’re shooting themselves in the foot. But, in exchange, Warner is to make more movies and TV shows available from their extensive library for download and rental through Netflix.

I can see the pros of this move. Netflix will have a more extensive library with Warner making more of their content available. Warner will benefit from the surge in views of their content and finally, we the consumers would have more things to keep us on our couch when the weather outside is frightful. So it would seem the benefits are substantial for all parties involved.

Here’s where I tell you about the cons I see. Mr. Impatient decides He wants a newly released DVD to view immediately. He doesn’t want to wait the 28 days for the movie to be released on a service like Netflix and so he ends up with a five dollar copy in his DVD player and the only person who sees that money is the joker with the DVD burner and the time to kill. And then the DVD sales flop and the result is higher costs at the theater for new releases and at the video store for new DVDs.

Overreaction on my part? I think not. What’s to stop Warner from doing this with other outlets? And if they convince other companies to hold off on rentals or streaming, then what’s to stop other companies from following suit?

If you were to walk into my living room, you would see that I have a very, very healthy collection of movies on DVD. I’ve spent the time and the money building the collection. Netflix offers me the opportunity to revisit those movies that I have yet to purchase on DVD and still, most likely, own on VHS. It allows me to watch full seasons of television shows that I would not otherwise see. And by doing so, it only fuels my interest in shows that are still on the air, thereby assuring the networks and the movie industry that they still have one more faithful viewer.

Will I stop watching the movies and the shows available through Netflix because of this move? Most certainly not. I will, however, be less likely to purchase a movie when it comes out because I am the type that prefers to rent and watch before purchasing. The majority of my DVD library is so I can show other people what I like or turn them on to a new series. I’ve seen the movie and while there are some notable few that make their way into my DVD player on a regular basis, most I will not watch without company.

28 days doesn’t sound like a lot on the surface but for someone like me who doesn’t always have the time to see movies in the theater or catch shows the nights that they air, I rely heavily on my DVR and Netflix to keep me up to date. Push me out another month and I may not be nearly as interested any more.

And I sincerely doubt I am the only one who feels this way.

Gritskrieg – End of Line

Posted By Gritskrieg

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