As you’ve no doubt noticed, your viewing options got a little shorter last week. Starz, the longtime supplier of popular movies and television series to millions of Netflix streaming devices, took their catalogue and went home rather than play with Netflix any longer. Popular titles like “Secretariat,” “Toy Story 3,” and “Scarface” disappeared from instant queues the world over.
While it may sound like Armageddon for the Los Gatos-based provider, especially in the wake of 2011’s pricing debacle – you know the one where they wanted subscribers to pay 60% more for the same thing – Netflix may be more prepared than you think, and that only bodes better for those same subscribers. In the past few months, Reed Hastings and company have been busy locking up lucrative, and not to mention exclusive, content deals with some of the biggest names in entertainment, something that Comcast’s recently announced Streampix or the still unnamed RedBox / Verizon partnership can’t replicate.
Not only will the 2012 Academy Award dominating Weinstein Brothers bring “The Artist” and “The Iron Lady” with them later this year, but they’ll have some high profile company to join. Lest we forget, Netflix signed DreamWorks, owners of “Kung Fu Panda” and “Shrek,” which will start in 2013. They’ll also continue their 5-year relationship with Epix, streaming purveyors of Lionsgate, MGM, Paramount, and Viacom. And did we mention they’ve already ordered a new season of the cult favorite “Arrested Development,” while signing on David Fincher (“The Social Network,” “The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo”) to helm their new original series, “House of Cards?”
Mind you, this was before Hastings received what amounts to a papal blessing in Silicon Valley. That’s right. Apple called. Not only will every new Apple TV be Netflix compatible, (if you happen to have an account,) but Apple will be making it easier to sign up (if you don’t) by allowing the iTunes faithful to sign up and pay for the service right from iTunes. Even older models of Apple TV will get the upgrade, plugging Netflix directly into the hearts and minds of the fanboys. Add to this the recent rumors that Hastings is now courting cable companies, presumably every one not named “Comcast” or “Time Warner,” to offer Netflix as a possible monthly add-on, and it’s hard to see Netflix as anything less than a media juggernaut.
So before proclaiming Netflix prematurely dead by a lack of content, hoards of streaming competitors, or even fickle consumers, you have to ask yourself, “what other service is engrained into every streaming device on the market with 24 million subscribers and counting?”