Warner Thinks Waiting to Netflix DVDs Will Help Sales
January 7, 2010

In return for more favorable pricing and more catalog movies available for streaming, Netflix agreed not to rent Warner Bros. DVDs for the first 28 days of their release. Warner thinks that a month’s delay will mean more people buying the discs instead of watching for one low monthly fee. I think that someone who really wants to see the movie will have done so in the theater. Or downloaded it, whichever. Otherwise, if you’ve waiting three-six months, what’s one more?

Netflix stock went up on this news, while Time Warner declined slightly. Netflix says that only 30% of their rentals are new releases, which makes sense. Lots of people appreciate the “long tail” of Netflix, getting the chance to watch films they can’t easily find locally. That article also shows why Warner cares so much: “About 75 percent of DVD sales are made during the first four weeks that a title is available.” That also makes sense, since there’s always something newer and hotter coming down the pike to distract the customer.

This is likely the first studio to attempt to force Netflix into this kind of deal, but not the last. How soon until mailing plastic discs doesn’t matter, and people subscribe to Netflix just for their single-rate movie streaming functions? (While they fill their rental queue with TV season discs.) This is an attempt to force customers back into older models instead of acknowledging the current reality and working with consumer behavior as it is, instead of how you wish it still was. If you must have Warner movies at release date, you can still access them through video-on-demand or rent from brick-and-mortar locations like Blockbuster. At least for now.

10 Responses  
mark writes:  

I won’t buy anymore Warner Brothers DVD’s. Between this crap and the force move to Blu-Ray?

Until they stop behaving badly, I will just keep my money. This means I will NOT be buying the new Justice League DVD…

James Schee writes:  

Wow! I rarely when I had Netflix ordered new movies given that the wait on them was usually REALLY long. Honestly with things like Red Box and Blockbuster Express machines in stores. I find it easy to just rent what I want out of them, and only pay $1 per day I keep it.

Thom writes:  

There is no “forced move” to Blu-Ray Mark. WB is simply bundling DVDs with all their Blu-Rays…and apparently dropping their prices to boot. You can still just buy the DVD.

And this move? How often does one get the new release right away anyways? Like James, I find the new releases have the long wait times anyhow. And as a trade off, WB is giving more access for Netflix’s streaming movies? This is pretty much win.

Johanna writes:  

I could just buy the DVD, but the special features I’m interested in (like the comparison to the graphic novel on the Whiteout disc) have become Blu-Ray only. So what’s the point? I wanted the extras, not the movie again.

mark writes:  

And that’s the part of the ‘forced move’ to Blu-Ray that irritates me no end, Thom. I will not buy a Blu-Ray player until my DVD player shoots craps and not before. I enjoy the extra features, so this is B.S. as far as I am concerned.

I buy many DVD’s on the first day of sale. It is what Fanboys do….

Anthony writes:  

Besides the previously mentioned faults (and general cash-grab feel), don’t see how this boosts DVD sales; if they’re renting it, they likely don’t plan on buying it. Wonder as well why they didn’t just make DVD-right-away a premium service or something (for extra $$) vs just ditching it entirely…

Thom writes:  

This is a better deal for the people who make the movies-for example, screenwriters. A screenwriter makes nothing from a DVD rental through Netflix. But they do get residuals for DVD/Blu-Ray purchases and online streaming.

Yeah, but Johanna, the constant retort from people who oppose Blu-Ray is that the future is digital streaming/downloads-which don’t include the special features either. The future is working against those of us who like special features. :)

Johanna writes:  

Yes, I’m beginning to come to that conclusion. Shame. I was looking forward to some of the graphic novel-to-movie comparison featurettes. And good point about it being a plus for how some people are compensated.

Rental Calendars Have Different Release Dates » DVDs Worth Watching writes:  

[…] this year, I reported on how Warner would not be releasing new movies to Netflix, imposing a 28-day delay in order to drive DVD sales instead of rentals. However, Blockbuster still has Warner movies […]

Movie Business Decides to Protect Profits by Inconveniencing Customers Further » DVDs Worth Watching writes:  

[…] the beginning of 2010, Warner began imposing a DVD rental delay, in which they wouldn’t provide discs to outlets like Netflix and Redbox until 28 days after […]


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