updated 08:20 am EDT, Fri April 9, 2010
Netflix takes setbacks to get streaming rights
Netflix today struck deals with both Fox and Universal to bolster its Internet streaming service. In exchange for getting wider access to major movies and TV shows such as 24, Aliens and Gosford Park, Netflix will agree to stall the release of discs and Internet streams for the first 28 days after their retail sales dates. The terms mirror those set with Warner earlier in the year.
All three agreements are efforts by major movie studios to protect their retail sales and rental businesses, which have been hurt by Netflix as customers opt to rent titles through the subscription. Blockbuster and other retail outlets have faced store closures and financial struggles as their limited physical stock and emphasis on renting by the title have fallen out of favor.
Simultaneously, the move reinforces Netflix's increasingly important Watch Instantly feature. Besides being found on many newer Blu-ray players and all game consoles, the service got a major lift last weekend with the launch of the Netflix iPad app, which shows videos at high quality and essentially mimics the website. It has been one of the most popular apps for Apple's tablet and, even with a few days of release, had over 200,000 downloads despite just 450,000 iPads having been sold.