Netflix users becoming growingly accustomed to stagnant queues of movies can breathe a sigh of relief. It was announced earlier today (August 10) that Netflix would embark on an estimated $1 billion deal over the course of the next five years with Epix, the premium pay-TV and video on demand (VOD) subscription service, beginning on September 1. Under the agreement, new releases and library titles available to stream instantly will make their way over to Netflix 90 days after they premier on Epix, to honor previous contracts with current cable and satellite companies. Historically, the rights to these theatrical releases are offered in upwards of nine years to pay-TV after their theater debuts, making for Epix’s venture with Netflix a first in the industry.
Created last year, Epix is a joint-venture featuring illustrious Hollywood partners Paramount Pictures (including Paramount Vantage, MTV Films and Nickelodeon Movies), MGM (and its affiliate United Artists), and Lionsgate (including its subsidiary Mandate Pictures). The channel and its VOD services are currently offered through Cox Communications, Mediacom, Dish Network, Character Communication, and Verizon FiOS, which according to a March 2010 interview with Epix president Mark Greenberg in the Los Angeles Times, has amassed them between 3 million and 4 million subscribers. DirecTV, Comcast, and Cablevision have all yet to buddy up to the service.
"Adding EPIX to our growing library of streaming content, as the exclusive Internet-only distributor of this great content, marks the continued emergence of Netflix as a leader in entertainment delivered over the Web," said Ted Sarandos, chief content officer for Netflix. "The EPIX deal is an example of the innovative ways in which we're partnering with major content providers to broaden the scope and freshness of choices available to our members to watch instantly over the Internet."
This line from the press release concerns me the most: “…members can instantly watch anarray of new releases…”
An array, huh? What if I wanted to watch a plethora or a wide variety? Array signifies that not all of the options available for Epix users will be on the table for Netflix users to sample. I don’t want just the cheese and cracker platter: I want the fondue fountain, 10 different trays of prosciutto-wrapped hors d'oeuvres, and the four-meat carving station. Don't tease me with a four-course movie meal Netflix then take the lid off of a dinner tray with American Kickboxer 2 and Killer Klowns from Outer Space.
Regardless, this is a step in the right direction for the ailing movie selections of Netflix, who is currently the world’s largest subscription service with over 15 million members. It's ventures like these that only further solidify their dominance, as they attempt to broaden their horizons and are quick to amend subscriber concerns with stale choices. What offerings this will bring to your browsing queues can only be speculated upon until the partnership hits play in September.