New Deal Could Take Netflix to Infinity and Beyond

In their biggest exclusive content deal yet, Netflix has been handed the keys to the Magic Kingdom, as they signed an estimated $300 million deal with Disney that will give them access to the vaults of the famed production company.

The amount of content this gives the streaming powerhouse is nothing short of incredible. Not only will they be gaining access to the Disney classics collection (my inner child is freaking out), but they will also be securing new Disney releases during the same time that cable services get them (estimated to be about 6 to 9 months after theatrical releases), and starting in 2016 Netflix will become the exclusive provider of Disney films as they become available. Oh and, in case you were wondering, this means they gain the rights to the entire Disney family of films which includes Disney, Pixar, Marvel, Walt Disney (classics), and Disneynature.

My not so professional opinion? Yowza.

The timing couldn’t be better for the acquisition since Netflix has started to get behind their Just For Kids section in a big way, and the recent loss of Starz caused some to question if they could handle the impact of the missing content. Not that there was ever a bad time to acquire the films of one of the largest and most cherished production companies in the world mind you, and now the pressure is on the competition more than ever. While Amaon’s deal with Epix, and Hulu’s with Criterion have provided each some worthy bragging rights, they now may be forced to humbly admit that neither of them had the ability to pull off a deal of this magnitude, and they must now retreat to the drawing boards to formulate an effort that will match the even greater attention, and subscriptions, that Netflix will garner from the exclusive rights to one of the most widely regarded and beloved collection of movies available from a single source.

It’s a game changer with no hyperbole possible in describing its implications.

Now if you’ll excuse me, I must patiently await the arrival of “Heavyweights” on Netflix Instant.

“Do It To It Lars!”

Netflix gets a price increase

Netflix rate hikeThere I was, late Monday night, getting ready to leave for Ohio the following evening. My girlfriend and I were going to drive through most of the night on Tuesday so we could miss the Wednesday traffic (sidebar: get it together VirginiaDOT – the 77/81 junction looks like it was designed by throwing spaghetti at a wall and letting a first grader draw the signage). As we both packed she said, “Sucks about that Neflix increase, right?” Check the email. Price increase. Back to packing.

I was worried when she first mentioned it, but really, the extra dollar a month doesn’t bother me. I’ve been unbelievably happy with my Netflix subscription, so the extra $12 a year is like a tip for good service.

On the flipside, though, I wish I could justify stepping down to the streaming-only plan. I would love a streaming video service that could rival my music service (MOG). Give me on demand everything, not just the old stuff. As it stands, I keep the DVD part of my Netflix subscription for those movies I want to watch while I work but can’t find elsewhere. I would love to get it all over the cloud, and would likely pay double my current Netflix fee to do it. Time for an industry shift, folks, and the first service to do it will get a helluva lot of subscribers.

Paid TV execs really don’t get it

Satellites.I’ve been writing here a lot about the development of online TV services and my desire to be able to truly cut the cord and fully rely on the internet for my media consumption. I don’t currently have a cable subscription of any kind, which makes me really really happy, but my system isn’t perfect and could definitely stand to get a lot better.

The biggest thing standing in my way are the paid subscription services. They show up every few weeks to say stupid shit like this about Hulu and similar services: “If I can watch Glee tomorrow morning and I don’t have to pay a pay TV service –- I think that’s bad.” That’s Dish Network’s VP of Online Content Development and Strategy, Bruce Eisen. Sorry, Bruce, but you’re a moron. For starters, Fox – you know, the company that broadcasts Glee – allows me to do this. Why do they do this? Because customers want it. That’s what being in any sort of delivery service is all about – catering to your customers.

Somewhere along the road to present day, guys like Bruce Eisen forgot that their companies exist to deliver a product that customers want, not to dictate those wants by delivering a mediocre product at a ridiculous price. Not to limit consumer access to content but to provide it. Every time a cable or satellite exec says something like this, I can hear PR firms squealing in dismay. “Bruce! You just told the customers you don’t want them to have what they want! You want to bleed them dry before they can have it! These people aren’t stupid!”

And there’s the other problem. All these execs like to talk as though we don’t understand their business, like we can’t possibly understand the position Hulu has put them in. Sorry for asking you to think, Bruce. Sorry for asking you to adapt. Sorry for asking that American business men do what they were born to do. Make things. We’ve stopped making and become a country of consumers. Well I, for one, am done consuming and I’m ready to make.

Yeah, Bruce, that’s from 30 Rock. I loaded it up on Netflix just now, scrubbed forward to the part I wanted and transcribed it. Why can’t you make things like this:

And less like…wait…hold on a sec. Just have to fire up the old satellite and dig through the DV-ah, fuck it. Nevermind.

Those other two consoles can stream Netflix sans disc

Wii Netflix.Late last week, news broke that PS3 users could finally do what Xbox 360 users had been doing for some time: stream movies without the help of a pesky disc. Now the same is true for Wii users. So long as you have an $8.99 or higher Netflix plan, you can enjoy unlimited streaming without a disc in the drive.

From the Wii press release:

Beginning today, Netflix members in the United States and Canada can stream content through their Wii™ consoles with Netflix installed on their Wii Menu. The Netflix disc that was used for instant streaming on the Wii console will no longer be required. Netflix members who have a plan starting at $8.99 a month ($7.99 in Canada), a Wii console and a broadband Internet connection can now instantly watch movies and TV shows streamed directly to their TVs by simply downloading Netflix from the Wii Shop Channel. This new channel is available at no extra cost. The new disc-free option installs Netflix on the Wii Menu, making it convenient for Wii owners to quickly access streaming movies and TV shows.

I don’t really know why this took so long, or why PS3 and Wii users needed a disc in the first place, but it’s nice to see that it has finally been fixed.

U.S. Netflix subscribers may get a streaming-only plan

Netflix Chief Executive Officer Reed Hastings speaks during the launch of streaming internet subscription service for movies and TV shows to TVs and computers in Canada at a news conference in Toronto September 22, 2010. The Canadian introduction marks the first availability of the Netflix service outside of the United States.  REUTERS/ Mike Cassese  (CANADA - Tags: MEDIA BUSINESS)

Netflix has been going through a bit of a rough patch with regards to PR. First there were the actors, paid to look excited about the service’s Canadian launch, and then Reed Hastings made an “awkward joke” when asked if he thought there would be an American backlash about the lower subscription prices.

How much has it been your experience that Americans follow what happens in the world? It’s something we’ll monitor, but Americans are somewhat self-absorbed.

Hastings did do something a little out of character the other day when he hinted at a streaming-only option for US customers in a recent blog post.