Indie film buffs rejoice: Netflix announced it has secured agreements to stream films from several independent and foreign film companies, including The Criterion Collection, Gravitas Ventures, Kino Lorber, Music Box Films, Oscilloscope Laboratories, and Regent Releasing. The move adds some 300 new films to the online streaming selection that tops more than 17,000 films and TV shows.
It's good news for indie film watchers and makers alike, especially with all the disheartening drama over at Miramax. And this is just the latest in a string of partnerships and activity surrounding the fast-growing streaming service, with Netflix soon coming to the Wii (and already on the PS3 and Xbox 360, of course) and new partnerships with Philips and other Blu-ray player manufacturers announced. Could an iPad streaming app be next? Netflix CEO Reed Hastings told the Associated Press he doubts it. "Until we get our TV ubiquity and our Blu-ray ubiquity and we're getting close on video game ubiquity, then we would next turn to the small screen," he said. We'll check back toward the end of the year, post-launch.
Netflix's reach is astounding, so partnering should be a no-brainer for smaller film firms. The company reported 2.8 million new subscribers in 2009, up 31% from 2008, bringing the total to more than 12 million. According to the company, 48% of Netflix subscribers streamed content in the fourth quarter, compared to 28% in Q4 2008 and 41% in the third quarter of 2009. They expect two-thirds of Netflix subscribers to be streaming content in the next 18 months.
And its deal with Warner—we'll wait 28 days for new releases if you give us older Warner content for streaming—was a good compromise for building the streaming service, Netflix's endgame plan. Weakening its DVD business to grow the quality of its streaming business may seem surprising, but Hastings has been upfront about streaming being the ultimate goal. The deal is one that other studios are expected to follow.
Netflix's streaming service is only available from U.S.-based IP addresses right now, but the company has said it does plan to move into a new country in the second half of 2010. Research firm InStat estimates there will be more than 500 million Web-connected televisions, Blu-ray players, gaming consoles and other electronic devices by 2013. Worldwide streaming domination? Looks like it.