In the latest move sure to infuriate subscribers, Netflix is dropping thousands of movies to focus on TV shows instead. If you want to stream “Scarface” or “Toy Story 3” you’d better do it before Wednesday when these and thousands of other film titles will vanish for good, as Netflix’s Starz deal expires this week.
For Netflix, perhaps offering old TV shows is just cheaper than the latest films. Over the last year, the company has beefed up its library of old TV episodes and begun streaming its own original shows. (Like the Steven Van Zandt series “Lilyhammer.”) Netflix plans to offer more original programming, positioning itself more as the new AMC or HBO instead of just another place to watch existing content like Hulu or Amazon. In a bit of marketing spin, Netflix executives are referring to their TV titles, like “Mad Men,” “Breaking Bad” and “Lost” as “26-hour movies.”
But will this shift cause as much of an outcry as the Qwikster debacle did? Richard Greenfield, an analyst at BTIG Research, tells the New York Times, “given the significant increase in TV viewing, it’s not the catastrophic event that everyone thought it would be a year ago.” He estimates that TV shows make up 80 percent of Netflix viewership, while the company itself puts that number closer to 60 percent.
New-release movies now account for just 2 percent of all Netflix streaming, which is down from 8 percent a year ago. Then again, only four of the 50 top-grossing films of 2011 are currently available for streaming on the service, so streaming options — as many a subscriber can tell you — are extremely limited.
Netflix isn’t getting out of the new movie business entirely: The company just acquired rights for “The Artist,” which will become available within the next six months, the company said Monday.
[via NY Times]