If you’re all excited to release a new release of a Warner Home Video DVD from Netflix, you’re going to have to wait 28 days after it comes out to be able to rent it from the popular mail order company. Now comes the question as to why you have to wait. Well, it’s a multi-fold answer, but still fairly easy to understand.
As we mentioned in The Saga of Redbox, the movie studios are eager to keep the newest DVD releases away from the kiosk DVD company because they feel the low price point rentals are cannibalizing the sales of the DVDs upon their initial release. As the home video companies have looked at this closer, and given it more thought, they have come to the conclusion that all rentals in those first 28 days after release are a danger to their dwindling DVD sales.
To this end, Warner Home Video approached Netflix about the possibility of signing an agreement to also withhold the DVDs from the service for 28 days. In trade for this, Netflix would get to purchase its copies at a lower price, and they would also add more content to the company’s streaming video service. So while consumers will have to wait an additional four weeks for any new releases to reach their mailbox, they get a financially healthier company, more depth of copies and more content to watch any time they choose via streaming. Seeing as the company reports that only 30 percent of its business come from consumers renting the newest releases in the first month of release, it wasn’t a hard decision for them to reach.
While I personally see this as a win-win situation for everyone involved, there are those that aren’t quite as forgiving about having to wait an extra four weeks to rent a movie. MG Siegler of TechCrunch wrote an article recently about how Netflix had just handed a gift to iTunes when he discovered he could instantly rent The Invention Of Lying, a recent comedy starring Ricky Gervais, as opposed to waiting for it to become available on Netflix.
How could this possibly make a difference? It’s like comparing apples and oranges. You have a subscription to Netflix that allows you to rent unlimited movies per month from the company, while at iTunes you have to pay by the movie, which could quickly add up. Mr. Siegler admits he only had passing knowledge of the film before he spotted it on Netflix, and when he saw the date it would be available, it somehow suddenly became imperative that he see this movie immediately, prompting him to see if it was available on iTunes. Never mind he skipped seeing it in the theater. Never mind he wasn’t even really aware of it until he tried to get it on Netflix, now he absolutely had to see it!
The whole issue is how many people really know the release dates of DVDs? If you care enough to know the exact date a film is coming out on home video, more than likely you are planning to purchase it anyway. As someone who was worked in and around the home video industry over the years, I can pretty much predict that eventually there will become a standard of two dates for films now. There will be the street date for sales and another for rental, and there will be no option for renting the film earlier beyond smaller mom and pop video stores that just will buy copies at a discount from somewhere like Amazon so they can rent them earlier. The big chains, and yes, even iTunes, will all eventually agree to this new system because they simply won’t be given an option.
Perhaps it is my age, but I simply can’t be bothered to care about when I see a movie on DVD. If it’s something I must see, I go to the theater. If it’s something I want to see on DVD, I see it when I see it. I can’t count the number of movies I’ve bought on disc and don’t get around to watching it until it shows up on cable any way. Sure this new arrangement be annoying for the moment while its new, but in six months or so, you won’t even remember this change happened and everyone will have just come to go, “oh well, I guess a movie I scarcely even knew existed will just have to wait to be seen in four weeks.”
What do you think? Are you upset by this shift in rental release dates?