HBO kills Netflix deal. Warner Brothers doubles movie rental wait. [video]
So two related topics to write about today. First, did you hear about this situation between Netflix and HBO? Since we're a family site I can't use the phrase I'd normally use to refer to the dispute, so instead I'll just call it a tempest in a teapot.
It seems that HBO has canceled a deal whereby Netflix could buy DVDs direct from HBO for a discount (Cnet broke this story).
Why? HBO isn't saying, but Cnet's Greg Sandoval suggests this is a result of a comment Netflix Reed Hastings made at the UBS Media Conference last month. Hastings said the competitor we fear the most is HBO Go. They aren't competing directly with us now, but they can. HBO is becoming much more Netflix-like, and we're becoming much more HBO-like...We'll push each other like two runners.. That doesn't sound particularly inflammatory to me, but let's play along.
Of course not so long ago Netflix beat out HBO in a deal with Dreamworks, meaning new Dreamworks movies will be on Netflix instead of HBO (at least initially). Plus there's Netflix's fledgling "original content" program which starts on February 6, 2012 with the streaming of relocated-gangster show Lilyhammer which looks pretty interesting, at least from the trailers and teasers I've seen. At least two more shows, House of Cards and a resurrected Arrested Development are also in the works.
I guess it's safe to say HBO is starting to take notice of Netflix. Cnet calls ending the deal a "brush-back pitch" but to me, this is HBO looking just a little bit worried.
So enough B-to-B politics, what will this mean for you, the Netflix user? Nothing. Netflix will still be able to obtain HBO content on DVD and Blu-ray from other sources; they'll just have to pay a little more, and I think it's safe to say that right now Netflix is definitely not going to pass those additional costs on to consumers; not while it's still recovering from the public relations black-eye it gave itself last year with the Qwikster debacle and big price hikes.
As for me, I'm happy I'll have Lilyhammer to watch on Netflix while I wait for the new season of Game of Thrones to hit HBO. Check out this trailer:
HBO is owned by Time Warner, and the mothership is also going after Netflix, though this volley is aimed at Blockbuster and Redbox as well. According to AllThingsD Time Warner is doubling the movie rental 'waiting period' from 28 days to 56 days. What this means is that a Warner Brothers movie DVD/Blu-ray won't be available for rent from Netflix, Blockbuster or Redbox until that movie has been on retailers' shelves for 56 days.
This one does impact you if you're a movie buff who rents from any of the big three services. Time Warner is convinced that you'll go out and buy the disk rather than waiting almost two months to rent the movie. I'm guessing that this move will just reinvigorate the popularity of pirating movies, but that's just my suspicion.
What will you do? Suck it up and wait a couple months to watch, go out and buy a copy, or obtain the movie through other means?
Read more of Peter Smith's TechnoFile blog and follow the latest IT news at ITworld. Follow Peter on Twitter at @pasmith. For the latest IT news, analysis and how-tos, follow ITworld on Twitter and Facebook.