Just when you thought Blockbuster, which added video games to its by-mail service this morning, gained a leg up against competitors, Netflix announced today a major digital partnership with premium TV channel Epix. The deal, last reported at $1 billion over five years, enables Netflix to show Epix's premium movies on its online streaming service.
This "multi-year" deal will commence on September 1, and demonstrates how Netflix is continuing to strengthen its "Watch Instantly" feature. The popular by-mail and streaming company has already partnered with Starz to expand its online catalog, but this deal will bring even more titles to its rich library. The deal will add "an array" of new releases and titles from Paramount, Lionsgate, and MGM, which combine for more than 21% of movie studio market share. More than half of Netflix subscribers stream movies and TV online, and that number passed 60% in July.
"The future really is streaming," Steve Swasey, VP of corporate communications at Netflix, told Fast Company recently.
Similar to Netflix's 28-day window, Epix films are subject to a delay, meaning its "new releases" won't reach Netflix until after they have been on DVD for some time. Blockbuster has been touting this advantage as of late, and it appears Netflix is trying to close any gap in service. This deal not only serves as a response to Blockbuster's taunts, but also an encroachment on HBO and other pay-channels well-established territory.
In an interview last year, Epix president Mark Greenberg said the channel had an "earlier window" than competitors like HBO and Showtime, meaning Netflix would gain access to those films before either of those channels.