Woah, Netflix and Starz Entertainment Part Ways

As if news of the Netflix pricing increase (or jack if you ask me) wasn’t enough of a blow to loyal Netfilx customers, today’s news is another unexpected body blow.

For those who have fallen in love with the Instant Feature, this will sadden you to hear that Starz (who is gives Netflix a huge portion of the Instant titles) has decided not to re-up the existing content deal. Translation: the 1,000+ movies offered in the Netflix Watch Instantly service will not be offered once the current contract expires in February 2012.

Wow, talk about a hay-maker huh? For those interested have a look at the official press release after the jump:

ENGLEWOOD, Colo., Sept. 1, 2011 /PRNewswire/ — Starz, LLC, President and Chief Executive Officer, Chris Albrecht, issued the following statement today regarding the status of affiliation agreement renewal discussions with Netflix.

Starz Entertainment has ended contract renewal negotiations with Netflix. When the agreement expires on February 28, 2012, Starz will cease to distribute its content on the Netflix streaming platform. This decision is a result of our strategy to protect the premium nature of our brand by preserving the appropriate pricing and packaging of our exclusive and highly valuable content. With our current studio rights and growing original programming presence, the network is in an excellent position to evaluate new opportunities and expand its overall business.

Starz, the company through which Netflix gets a rather large percentage of its streaming cataloge, has backed out of negotiations to extent its current content deal, and will remove its content from the Netflix Watch Instantly service when the existing contract expires in February 2012.

If the staggeringly large Instant catalog is no longer offered I wonder what reparations or incentives Netflix will offer its customers. Perhaps bringing back the previous price structure might help. Or will this allow another media company to step in and offer a multitude of streaming titles?One cannot choose but wonder as it looks like Netflix stock might be receding. Guess we’ll have to see what happens as I bet there’s many a Netflix subscriber who considers this strike 2. That’s a full count Netflix, so make your next pitch wisely. Thanks to /Film for the heads up.

On a personal note, even if the Instant catalog is significantly reduced, Netflix still offers a huge selection of titles (mostly by mail though). I for one kind of think that trimming down the movies available is a good thing as I all too often am drowning in movies I want to watch but never get around to actually seeing. Also I am and have been neglecting my hard won library of films (the Sacred Shelves) I already own and feel I am missing many opportunities to go back to the films I love in lieu of the convenience of Netflix Instant.

But that’s just what I think, what say you Instant fans? Does this make you wary about remaining a Netflix customer. Are you going to see other outlets for your entertainment needs? Or are you going to hang around to see what happens. 

  • Alan

    The major problem I see is that it seems like about a third of the movies I actually want to watch on Netflix is from Starz Play. My original take on this was that I’m fine with the price change from Netflix, but I expect service to improve if the price is going to double, which after this news I suspect we won’t see. This is what I’d like to see. If Netflix fails in either of these, I’ll be looking elsewhere, since Blockbuster.com has a similar title inventory on DVD these days, and their streaming service has always been more in mind with what I really want to be watching. Basically, this is what I would like to see at the new price schedule:

    DVD: For twice the price, I never again want to wait for 18 months to get my hands on the Dexter Season 4, Disc 1. Or any other title, for that matter.

    Stream: For twice the price, I want more mainstream movies I missed in theaters at the industry standard release schedule (DVD release + 30 days). I want less random crap that Hulu is offering for free, and that seems to be a LARGE portion of what Cinematch is trying to throw at me these days.

    But, I’ll bet dollars to doggie donuts that Starz starts its own streaming network. “Evaluate new opportunities and expand its overall business.” With their title rights, they’d be stupid not to undersell Netflix and eat into that market leader’s business.

  • MarcC

    I can totally see that happening. I mean Starz could grab a not only a good number of P.O’d Netflix fans but a good number of film fans who have been looking to ditch their cable service. As long as the offer is attractive enough of course.