Netflix Buys $1 Billion Worth of New-Release Streaming Rights

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08/10/2010 1:49 PM |

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Netflix will “pay ‘close to $1 billion in licensing fees'” to the new, struggling pay-cable channel Epix for the right to add Paramount, Lions Gate and MGM features to their View Instantly service three months after their TV debut on Epix, a joint venture of the three aforementioned studios. What’s this mean for the future of movie streaming services?

Well. Presumably Epix is willing to serve as a middleman to a streaming service because, as the above-linked report relates, they’re struggling to make up ground on more established channels like HBO and Showtime, who for their part prefer to hoard the recent releases to which they have the rights—Epix, though, needed the money, and the three-month exclusivity window is mostly a fig leaf so Epix doesn’t have to admit to investors that no one actually carries, let alone watches, the channel.

Classic and independent movies have, naturally, been made more available online than have Hollywood features; so too have TV shows. And as Hollywood studios rely on an ever more complicated formula of overseas receipts, DVD sales and TV rights to cover their ever-bloating production and marketing costs, major money guarantees like the one just made by Netflix may be a way of convincing studios that streaming is as viable an option for home viewing as TV.