The Dark Side of Netflix

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1/30/2010

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1/07/2010

28 Days Later: Epidemic of Artificial New Release Delays to Afflict Netflix Subscribers


Once again, Netflix has reduced your subscription benefits without your consent. Just in case you were not already waiting long enough to receive new releases from Netflix, the Red Menace has just cut a deal with Warner Brothers to prohibit you from using your Netflix account to see new Warner Brothers releases for twenty-eight days after they are released on DVD.

Warner Brothers is inventing the artificial delay to push you into buying their DVDs instead of renting them. Netflix, benefiting from a special deal with the studio, is completely complicit in the scheme. This agreement is supposed to give you more access to older Warner Brothers titles. That's what you really wanted, right?

What can you do about this? First of all, buying Warner Brothers DVDs, especially during the first month after release, will only encourage this sort of sleazy corporate behavior. You might want to consider adopting a policy of not buying Warner Brothers DVDs or, at least waiting until the DVDs are available used or on clearance. Another thing you might consider is canceling your Netflix subscription and going with a competing company that does not impose artificial delays on new releases.

This is a stupid move for both Netflix and Warner Brothers. In a time when downloading pirated movies for free is becoming increasingly easy, certainly some people will get fed up with manufactured delays and seek out popular new releases online for free. More and more people are beginning to discover pirated movies are often available online for weeks or months before they come out on DVD. (Some movies show up on the Internet before they hit theaters.) People are also realizing only a modest amount of computer knowledge is required to download movies. If the movie studios had any sense, they would be trying to combat this challenge by making their movies available more quickly and conveniently. This move toward artificial release delays is only going to spur along the popularity and public acceptance of downloading.