Many major movie studios are restricting movies from being rented (via Redbox or Netflix or other means) during the first 28 days after release. The belief is that the studios will sell more movies. This is stupid.
But before I get into why it is stupid, let me explain my own movie set up. First, my wife and I watch lots of movies. We are aficionados and have 300 or so movies in the house plus use Netflix, both rentals and on demand. We do not have cable (just the local channels and Discovery) as I could no longer justify paying the cable company $70 a month for crap so instead we have higher bandwidth Internet and our Netflix subscription. We don’t go to the theater much because most movies aren’t worth seeing on the big screen.
First, when my wife and I see a movie we want to watch, something just hitting theaters, we add it to our Netflix queue. We only know it is a “new release” when Netflix tells us so. With that, we could care less whether it became a new release four weeks ago or today.
Second, we only buy movies that we really would watch again. Since few movies are of that caliber we don’t buy many movies any more. In fact I would say we buy less than three movies/TV shows a year, whether they are in the new release window or not.
We devised a rating system years ago: buy, theater, rental, cable, no way. A “buy” movie has to be exceptional. A “theater” movie has to be best on the big screen. A “rental” is interesting but not qualified for the top two. “Cable”, a category we abandoned a while ago, is the recycled movies you find on standard cable and “no way” is, well, self explanatory.
So for you movie studios paying attention, it is not rent v. buy. It is more like watch v. don’t watch. And to be honest, lately you’ve been failing at that one, too.
I wonder if the 28 days is related to the amount that theaters are willing to pay studios for the ability to play during that period??
This sounds similar to what Bill Gurley talks about in his post about television and affiliate fees: http://abovethecrowd.com/2010/04/28/affiliate-fees-make-the-world-go-round/
As far as I understand it, NetFlix negotiated that length of time in exchange for more streaming back catalog. At that point the movies aren’t in theaters; they are in Walmarts and Targets.
I think NetFlix understands this scenario perfectly, realizing that new release is when they say so and that more back catalog means more streaming and less need to own.