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Netflix Will Be the Exclusive US TV Home of Disney, Marvel, Lucasfilm and Pixar (netflix.com)
425 points by mgr86 on May 23, 2016 | hide | past | web | favorite | 255 comments

Netflix is now behaving like a channel, rather than a library. Originally, they had a huge library from which you could choose. Now, they announce "Here are some of the great and varied selection of films coming to our U.S. service in the next few months". Some of those films are decades old. Gradually, their back catalog has shrunk.

Ultimately, I'm afraid this is due to the difference in laws between owning a physical copy of a disk and having the rights to redistribute digital media. Once Netflix had a DVD of some old movie, it was effectively free for them to hold onto it forever, and older DVDs could be siphoned up from a zillion sources for pennies. Netflix would have to pay for new movies, but the maximum they could be charged would be retail price, and once they had the copies, they'd have them forever. Their catalog would only grow.

Digital redistribution, however, severely hampers them. They can't "buy" copies of movies anymore. Instead, they must pay for the right to stream a movie for a certain amount of time to a certain number of users.

It's an unfortunate outcome, and it's all but guaranteed by the way copyright law works. If there were a law change to allow the digital equivalent of "owning one copy" or, say, allowing the owner of a DVD to stream its contents to exactly 1 recipient over the Internet per DVD owned, I think Netflix's catalog would be an order of magnitude larger.

I don't see it as an 'unfortunate outcome' - it is a great outcome because it maximises the total value of the economic pie created by the movie and TV studios. The fact that movie studios can add restrictions when distributing digital content means that they can charge a fee closer to the value that consumers receive. This means (1) the studio shareholders get larger dividends, (2) the industry makes more movies; (3) consumers who are willing to pay get a wider choice; and (4) more people are employed in the industry.

In general it seems to me inefficient to have laws which prevent suppliers from charging fees close to the value they create. For example, if the government says "farmers cannot sell tomatoes for more than $2 per kilo" that would clearly restrict the total size of the 'economic pie' produced by growing tomatoes (shared between farmer and consumer). Similarly if we place restrictions on the kind of agreements that movie producers can negotiate with distributors it also limits the size of the movie industry.

It's not a free market industry. To follow your exemple , a tomato owner cannot license you tomatoes and come back and take away your tomato after three days, nor make a deal with you to force your user to eat your tomato only in some settings and not other, otherwise they violate the DMCA.

TV and Movie owners already have copyright laws and DMCA laws giving them legal control on who gets their content and how it is used. The situation with Netflix is that now they can remove their past supply from the market to limit competition from their older titles. New content won't be better or more sought after than the older, it will just be the only one conveniently available. And as we move to more and more digital releases, there might not be any alternative way left to get the older content anymore.

You are right that this will pay salaries for industry people, but I agree with the parent that it's unfortunate.

> TV and Movie owners already have copyright laws and DMCA laws giving them legal control on who gets their content and how it is used.

And you have property laws giving you legal control over who gets your physical property and how it gets used. You could, for instance, loan your car to your family all you want, or agencies can rent their cars out as they wish. But the moment some stranger makes off with it, the government law enforcement agencies are obliged to help.

The legal distribution of content is a free market -- there is no government price setting agency and no monopoly more than other forms of ownership -- the public only needs to be better educated about what they are paying for.

I've been thinking about it, and perhaps the conclusion could be that the moment you start loaning, you are by definition in a special situation. I guess in the wider sense of the term it is still a market, but it doesn't behave like how we use to think about markets.

With your exemple about cars for instance, if every car maker decided to refuse to sell their cars, and only accepted loaning them, they'd have a lot more control than they have now, as long as they collude to all go loaning only.

They could block reselling, forbid you by contrat from using your car for specific uses (or you'd need an extra fee for professional use for instance), they could get rid of all the second hand market and force old cars to retire prematurely. You are right that we'd fall exactly in the situation we discussed with Netflix.

The main issue is not digital property or not, it's basically that we have a model where there is no tranfer of property, and the producer only lends to the consumer instead of outright selling. As it was said in another comment, Netflix could own the physical DVD while now they only rent the digital copies.

Not a Netflix owner so I'm actually confused. Why do they worry about competition of their own titles? If you choose one thing from your selection they are still paying for your selection, isn't it?

So in summary: it's great because it makes more money.

The implication that this leads to a better movie offering is dubious. Would you say better movies are coming out now than 10/20 years ago? Even if more movies are coming (which I would find very easy to believe), I doubt (as in: I'd need to see some evidence) it's a consequence of digital distribution rights.

The tomato example is also bogus. Yes it's inefficient if this restriction does not have a raison d'être. But (completely) free markets do not magically create a societal optimal.

> It's an unfortunate outcome, and it's all but guaranteed by the way copyright law works.

This can be easily solved. We solved it with music.


Confusingly, compulsory licensing (which is specific to the US) actually only refers to a new recording of a song, i.e., a cover version. If you want to use an original version, you still have to negotiate a license with the owner of the sound recording (usually the record company), because sound recordings have their own separate copyright. There wouldn't be an equivalent concept of a "cover" for a film, of course.

> There wouldn't be an equivalent concept of a "cover" for a film, of course.

Well... https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_film_remakes

You've narrowed compulsory licensing too much. Pandora has a compulsory license to play original recordings for a preset price: http://www.billboard.com/biz/articles/news/digital-and-mobil...

I'm not sure I'm reading that right, it's late and I'm not a lawyer so it's kind of flying over my head... is it saying I can burn some CDs and release the entire back catalog of Britney Spears songs on my own, for a profit, as long as I pay a royalty fee?

If that's the case, how can Taylor Swift or Garth Brooks etc keep Spotify from streaming their music? Why aren't all streaming music services catalogs exactly the same? And how can labels demand YouTube take down my video slideshow of vacation pictures that features popular songs?

As I understand it, what you propose would not be a "new recording" but rather a copy of a previous recording. This provision allows covers to be made without permission, provided you pay.

That works well for music. Music services don't have to ask permission, they just have to declare what they broadcast and pay the rights. As a results services like Spotify have almost all albums from all artists (at least the major one).

Why can't we fix the law so movies can work the same?

Music services (I believe you mean streaming) is quite different than radio (broadcast). Labels and artists can restrict where and when their music can be streamed.

That is largely driven by the content creators and they don't have nearly as much control over it. They signed the Starz deal before streaming was big and when it came up for renewal Starz wanted more for catalog access than netflix was willing (maybe able) to pay. I would pay more for a bigger back catalog, but i guess I am in the minority.

Not to mention the content creators desperately want to avoid another Amazon/iTunes situation, with one distributor being able to dictate what the market does. They go out of their way to strategically deny licensing things completely to ensure Netflix doesn't have everything at once.

Hulu used to be their great big hope, since it's owned by several media companies, but they seem to have given up on that (even as Hulu has finally been worth using as they finally gave an option to pay and not still see ads).

Hulu is a great example of an company working super hard to un-innovate innovation. They had the distribution, rights, timing, capital and credibility to at least compete with, if not overtak netflix, but they couldn't Clayton Chrisitiansen it.

Let's examine the Hulu usecase & customer storyboard. Who the fuck would want to pay, to watch selective programming...with commercials? What customer wants a worse, more tempermental version of their DVR box, that forcibly eliminates the features making a dvr/tivo box useful?

Not only that but HBO? are they kidding. I am an HBO customer and I pirate HBO shows because they load faster and are in at least as good quality.I used to do this to Adobe. I commend them for lowering their product price and really getting competitve/offerig a ton of value. I pay $20 for creative cloud which is totally worth it for me vs. the time/aggrevation of pirating.

I would've paid for hulu if I could watch shows as they aired, and anytime after, without commercials. Obviously, I can never pay for/trust them and never will, now. Netflix really needs a competitor...

edit, to people saying HBO Now is good. HBO Go started in 06'. If it takes your company (one with the highest leverage in the industry) one decade to achieve mediocrity, you're already dead.

Let's explore HBO further. HBO is a compan that primarily buys an resells content through a dying (but currently critical) distribution mechanism. Sure they develop their own content too, and it is really good tbh. It's just that when they end up like blockbuster, they will have to sell it through netflix. I mean, how the fuck didn't they see this coming...

>Who they fuck would want to pay, to watch selective programming...with commercials?

Most homes do that. The people that hate commericals are a small but growing minority. And Hulu just recently released a no-commerical plan for like 13 bucks a month.

>I am an HBO customer and I pirate HBO shows because they load faster and are in at least as good quality.

I have really good experience with HBO NOW (and before it GO). It'll stream in 1080p the second the show airs on tv. They had some fuck ups a could years ago during some premiers, but since they moved to being hosted on mlb.tv, it's been great.

> The people that hate commericals are a small but growing minority.

I'm going to have to stop you there. With the exception of the 4 hours surrounding the superbowl, you go out into whereever you live and find someone who wants more commercials. Maybe you are correct, that people who hate them is a minority[0] as it is a strong sentiment, but they certainly aren't going to pay hulu? Why the fuck would they, they would just simply be purchasing a worse expereince than the DVR box they currently own? I mean maybe, if they demanded portability, and had an unliited data plan, but this is a strawman, as netflix exists.

> I have really good experience with HBO NOW

That's cool, and I respect that. One of my buddies worked on HBO Go when they started to think through the idea in 06. So I can't really trust a company that has arrived at mediocrity after a full decade of tackling a problem.

[0] This is a thought experiment. You are super obviously wrong. The majority of people, of course, fucking hate commercials.

It's not about the technology or the ads or so much the price. It's all about the catalog. Hulu, Netflix, HBO and Amazon are just fancy completely interchangeable video players; the only thing that matters is what you can watch on them. I pay for Hulu because the price is low enough, and the extra catalog is worth it. A few extra ads don't bother me enough to outweigh the good points. I pay for Netflix for the House of Cards and a few other things they have available for streaming here and there (like a bunch of children's shows), though their catalog has been getting terrible over time and I will probably cancel it. I pay for HBO for Game of Thrones. I'll probably cancel when I catch up.

The bottom line is, the content creators have everyone by the balls and no matter how few ads the streaming sites show or how fancy their video player is there is very little they can do about it.

you know, this was a pretty good rebuttal. The interesting thing here is that this is the total opposite of the internet. Content creators (and content) is virtually worthless and interchangeable, while the "catalog" is virtually everything. The internet version of the catalog can be a portal like hn/google/reddit ect, but the actual content doesn't matter.

Where as you correctly observed, the content is the only thing that matters for video.

> I can't really trust a company that has arrived at mediocrity after a full decade of tackling a problem

I disagree that it's mediocre. It's just different from Netflix, and has worked well when I use it.

Also, this is a well entrenched company in the cable industry that is working hard to maintain their current revenue stream while opening up a new revenue stream from a completely different distribution channel.

I can think of a number of companies that have failed to do this. Oracle and SAP in the cloud are at the top of mind. This is challenging for any company to do.

You can see my response above, and I haven't used it in a year so I am not sure. My experience is based on using it for about a 1 week period once a year before getting frustrated. I started in ~2012-2013ish.

However, hbo go started getting developed in 06'.I am not saying it isn't difficult to do, but if you can't do video at scale in 2016 when your core product is video and you have 8-10 years of developer hours spent on it, I mean, what are you doing? The reason, if I understand correctly, it is pretty decent now is because hey bought/licensed mlb.coms tech.

I think you're making the wrong comparison; it's not people who hate commercials and people who love them, it's people who accept them because status quo and people who don't.

Also, your Netflix answer for mobile is a non-answer. Jaccard similarity between Netflix and Hulu is pretty low.

If I understand you correctly, and I am not sure that I do, I think we are in agreement. My point above was that no one wants to watch commercials. The parent pointed out people don't hate them, and I flippantly and sarcastically tried to point out that people do. However, regardless, people watch televisiont to see the program, so certainly they would want to watch a 60min program vs a 45min one with 25% advertising propaganda. Some people aren't aware there is an alternative, or aren't comfortable enough with technology to learn a new paradigm (typically >65 years old). So I agree with you here.

> Also, your Netflix answer for mobile is a non-answer.

Again, not super sure what you meant. However, I was arguing that hulu is pointless vs a dvr. It is all around worse (price, performance, convenience, reliability in programming & behavior) than a dvr box, except portability. So I viewed it like this:

1. Hulu has only 1 single advantage over dvr 2. The advantage is portability of media & devices. 3. Netflix too has all the advantages of a dvr AS WELL AS portability. 4. Hulu has virtually 0 value as 2 substitutes exist in the market that are leagues better than it.

So again, i believe we are agreeing ;).

> If it takes your company (one with the highest leverage in the industry) one decade to achieve mediocrity, you're already dead.

Just because they were bad 10 years ago and are good now does not mean it took 10 years to get good. It means sometime in the last 10 years, they got good. That may have been yesterday, it may have been last year, or the year before, or the year before, etc.

I had no hair on my head when I was born. I have hair on my head now. Did it take me decades to grow hair, or did I grow it years ago and merely continue to have hair on my head to this day?

This does make a lot of sense and I thought about it and is verifiably a series of true statements and rhetorical questions that drive home a point that is correct. However, it is totally unrelated to the development of a product that took 10 years to create. They brought in a team and made a halfway decent attempt at HBO Go before killing hte project(shelving it), they then revitalized it and ultimately launched a total piece of shit project.

To be clear, software design is hard and sometimes you need to iterate. However, you are HBO so we can assume that you are either incompetent or just DGAF. Either way, GO floundered for the next halfish decade as an utter piece of shit totally eclipsed by for profit pirating sites doing a 10x better job delivering the content someone ripped from a box and then put online into native media players they wrote themselves that bury 2-3 layers if iframes into the page so they can still try and serve ads...this was a 10x better experience than HBO go. You had to find your cable password and go through an insane experience of finding passwords and cookie failures to get the privelege of a horrible search, viewing and quality experience.

After a decade, HBO licensed technology from a completely independent party and now has halfway decent UX/UI. So I do not feel perfectly qualified to speculate on how your hair progressed because I don't know you. However, I would say that if you spend 1 decade avidly working on an application which would prove to be core to your business had it been successful, and then you ultimately just end up leasing one...well yeah you're fucking dead. I mean what does HBO do?

It buys content and sells it. So they just lost the decade head start to build a distribution platform for that.

> But they develop their own original programming!

Everyone was thinking that. Correct, they mostly buy scripts and fund projects that have been pitched to them. Sure they do some stuff, but it would be a lot easier for netflix to buy the people (or the process) of developing the few shows HBO actually has a hand in creating (rather than simply buying and funding a pilot) than HBO has of recreating Netflix.

So HBO is dead. Hulu is somewhat dead, I suspect due to the ties with legacy rent-collectors it will not "die" but just rebrand and be a slightly less horrible version of itself.


> Did it take me decades to grow hair, or did I grow it years ago and merely continue to have hair on my head to this day?

Humans grow hair at a semi average rate of 0.5 inches a year. So if you were a typical human, unless you hair is over 60inches long then the hair is from new growth < 1 decade old.

You seem to be missing my point, which is that just because 10 years has passed, does not mean it took 10 years to make. Did you try it last year? Was it good then (yes)? Then now we know it only took nine years to make. Did you try it the year before? Was it good? If so, then we know it only took eight years to make. And so on.

I think HBO is that competitor. Also, the funny thing about Hulu is: nobody wants to acquire them b/c they know big 3 networks will jack up the pricing for the content as soon as they sell it. Hulu is less competition to traditional TV because they still have commercials which fundamentally hobbles them. I imagine Hulu's owners hobble them in other ways (admittedly, just a hunch).

Broadcast TV DVRs like HD Homerun and Channel Master DVR+ are currently under-utilized (even TIVO, the leader, is), but eventually may become well-known and used.

My biggest problem with Hulu, even more annoying than the ads was that they didn't have all the episodes of the shows that they presumably have rights to. For a show like Modern Family for instance, they would have the latest episodes but not the previous seasons. And I saw the same for other shows as well. Ads were annoying, but they fixed that by charging more. But not having the content I cared made me cancel my premium subscription.

> Who they fuck would want to pay, to watch selective programming...with commercials?

People like me.

Agreed, it's a good way to get network shows on demand without subscribing to a cable package.

Your attitude seems rather callow. I'm rather disappointed this is what HN is becoming.

To some extent this is inevitable and I think ultimately it will be to their detriment. One of the things that struck me during my recent "cut the cable" exercise was that while the offerings on Amazon Prime video were significantly less to my liking than those on NetFlix, if it wasn't on prime I could "buy" it or "rent" it from the same interface almost regardless of what it was. On NetFlix things vanish and then you no longer have access, period. So its fine "in the now" but want to watch an old episode of some show that used to be there and now its off the list.

I suspect that one of the things that Netflix cannot afford using AWS is to have content available that not enough people watch. They end up paying the storage charges with no revenue.

I think your first paragraph is spot on.

> I suspect that one of the things that Netflix cannot afford using AWS is to have content available that not enough people watch. They end up paying the storage charges with no revenue.

Licensing is a vastly higher cost than the AWS bill. It's all about what they can afford to license.

> I suspect that one of the things that Netflix cannot afford using AWS is to have content available that not enough people watch. They end up paying the storage charges with no revenue.

That is incredibly wrong.

Conservatively speaking, the average film can be stored with 1gb. The Library of Congress has 1.7 million videos (the largest film collection in the world).[0]

1.7PB could be stored on S3 for $54k a month which is, while not insignificant, is almost certainly insignificant compared to Netflix's streaming costs.

[0] https://www.loc.gov/about/fascinating-facts/

> That is incredibly wrong.

> Conservatively speaking, the average film can be stored with 1gb

Well actually[0].....Netflix transcode their material to hundreds to different formats. I think you'll find that a single film will probably take up several gigs, possibly hundreds once it's been transcoded:






[0]: http://tirania.org/blog/archive/2011/Feb-17.html

Well wrong certainly. I agree with most folks that licensing is a much bigger cost than storage.

The average film, at 1080p, is in my personal experience closer to 10GB+. 1GB maybe be enough, say, for a single TV episode.

The average film is not in 1080p though. Many of those 1.7 million films are old independent films.

Also, I've never gotten close to 10GB for even 1080p films.

That's a very silly assertion to make, their content delivery costs are likely several orders of magnitude higher than their storage costs.

However, as others have pointed out, these moves are about licensing deals with the content providers.

Edit: My point is that storage cost of their content is basically a non-factor in their decision making process.

Its too bad that netflix wouldnt just do a rev share deal w/ amazon and other media providers so that when I search "$SomethingInPrime" I would get a "not available for streaming" click here to pay $5.99 to rent. Then I can just keep going with my happy life.

Doesn't Netflix run it's own CDN outside AWS? I thought the AWS gear was only for browsing the catalog and actual content delivery is done with custom hardware, preferably at your local ISP.

I suspect that their licensing fees are orders of magnitude more than the distribution costs. The size of the catalog seems to me like it would be limited by the content owners terms more than storage prices.

Yeah, they have appliances for ISPs from which the films are streamed, it's called Open Connect: https://openconnect.netflix.com/en/

14 TB of solid state drive, nice

it's way more likely to be a problem with licensing terms than anything else

They've been pretty open about that for at least 3 years. This profile in GQ quotes Reed Hastings as saying:

  "The goal," he says, "is to become HBO faster than HBO can become us."

I love HBO but they are in a different weight class. At the end of the day most customers will see Netflix's catalog vs HBO's and will go with Netflix. I don't think that this is the best way for them to frame this battle.

Hbo has a very good catalog.

I was speaking about quantity, not quality.

Remember that the original huge library was comprised of CDs they bought. Streaming was always smaller. Streaming also got more expensive because studios cut much more aggressive content deals. They were forced to create content to stay alive. (This is true across tech - what's flowing through the pipes generally extracts more value than the pipes themselves. The telecom providers went bankrupt while the world thrived on the broadband they provided)

Cancelled it the other day. Rubbish choice if you do t want to watch fairly boring series vaguely aimed at kids. Waste of money!

I cancelled too and one of the reasons was their goddam awful UI. As they lost their back catalog they decided that they couldn't let you see what they actually have available, they had to hide their thin selection behind a crap UI. Whatever, fuck holywood, until I can get "spotify for movies" there's always torrents.

Agreed, the UI is very poor. However after using their dreadful UI to trawl their entire "catalogue" (more like pamphlet) and still finding nothing one is even more disappointed.

Agreed on the Hollywood part. They are asking too much.

I'm pretty sure at least half of their original programming would not be appropriate for kids, let alone the rest of the catalog.

I mean in part teenagers when I say "kids".

I've found their selection to be really poor. As someone else said their back-catalogue for movies is wafer thin.

Their movie catalog has always been thin. A few years ago, I was chatting with one of their tech guys I knew and he told me that people come for the movies and stay for the TV. In any case, this trend toward increasingly fragmented content subscriptions has pretty much been on the wall for a while.

Certainly they have to have some decent content if people are willing to pay for it. I can find a fair share of entertainment and documentaries on there, especially the ESPN 30 for 30 films

It's like a conspiracy to annoy the hell out of the average consumer. I'm not sure why Netflix would be proud of this.

How about we also get Spotify, iTunes and Google Play to step up the exclusives on their music services so I can never have a single place to go to listen to music.

This might be already happening - e.g. in the last few months Drake's album was released exclusively on Apple Music, Kanye's exclusively on Tidal. The back catalogs are mostly everywhere for now, but maybe this is the beginning and major releases from this point on will be exclusives.

Regarding Kanye's album, he went back on what he said about keeping it exclusively on Tidal. It's also available on Spotify, Apple Music, and Google Play Music.


Both of these are available on google play and other streaming services now.

Beyonce - Lemonade

It's a conspiracy to extract as much profit from consumers as possible. If everyone has Netflix, Hulu, Spotify, Prime Video, YouTube and iTunes subscriptions then large rights holders extract more money. It's been said before, but the premium cable TV channel model is what they're going for.

It's not a conspiracy, there's no backroom deals made through a haze of cigar smoke. The value of streaming rights is increasing, non-streaming revenue for the same content is slowly shrinking, there's multiple streaming services out there bidding up the rights to content, and the rightsholders are behaving appropriately according to their incentives.

Remember, part of what made Netflix possible to begin with was the fact that the content they were licensing had already made its money through theatrical runs, cable deals and home video for movies, and original network fees and syndication rights for TV shows. So the content holders only had to worry about marginal revenue over negligible costs -- you can get very little for the content and still come out ahead. As streaming becomes a bigger and bigger piece of the pie, it canibalizes those other revenue channels, and more and more streaming money is required to make it revenue-positive. The market is reacting.

It's also the way the market should work. Content creators are selling a non-fungible product. Streaming services are to a great extent, fungible, like retailers. In fact, as content creators get their arms around streaming, I expect more of them to set up their own "shops" instead of relying on retailers, in the same way Apple and Tesla do.

> It's also the way the market should work. Content creators are selling a non-fungible product. Streaming services are to a great extent, fungible, like retailers. In fact, as content creators get their arms around streaming, I expect more of them to set up their own "shops" instead of relying on retailers, in the same way Apple and Tesla do.

The problem with this argument is, financially, I'd be willing to pay $NN/month for access to everything in a single distributor like Netflix.

If the effort required to stay legal exceeds reason [which is what you are suggesting with N channels purchased separately] why bother?

I've honestly reached a point where I'm completely indifferent to anything that isn't already on Amazon Prime or Netflix. Create a dozen distributors and people will just pirate things.

You can say that of pretty much any product or service. People would rather get something illegally for free instead of paying to get it legally, if it's easy enough and the risk of getting caught is low. That by itself doesn't mean prices are too high or there is anything wrong with the market.

Its a nice little bit of common wisdom that "free is always better," but its not actually true- if it were, Netflix and Spotify and their ilk would never have gotten off the ground, since there's not a thing they're selling that can't be pirated (and no realistic chance of punishment for piracy.) We're not homo economicus.

The main reasons Netflix, Spotify and their ilk exist are a) piracy is still not user-friendly enough for everyone, and b) people vastly overestimate the risk of getting caught for piracy. Both of these are largely due to the incessant efforts of copyright holders exerting their legal rights. We are, in the large, homo economicus.

> You can say that of pretty much any product or service. People would rather get something illegally for free instead of paying to get it legally, if it's easy enough and the risk of getting caught is low. That by itself doesn't mean prices are too high or there is anything wrong with the market.

I'm talking about the quality/difficulty of service access, not the price.

I probably should have just used $NN as the price. I've changed the OP from $50 to that if it makes it clearer.

If you make me sort through 10 services, the time for the consumer to access the desired content is faster via piracy.

> The problem with this argument is, financially, I'd be willing to pay $50/month for access to everything in a single distributor like Netflix.

The problem with this argument is, financially, all the content distributors and rightsholders we currently have right now can't survive on that price. I mean, you're breaking out the dumb pipe provider into their own price bucket, so it's not apples-to-apples with current cable companies, but think of how much an everything package with a cable or satellite company costs, and think about how much content you don't get in such a package.

They make the vast majority of their money on new content.

Making money off their old catalog is more like a freebie when it's all milked out.

I don't understand. What's hard about having multiple streaming services? It's not all that different from having different channels on a TV.

It's definitely a hassle to have to look through the various services to find which one actually has a bit of content, find the login for that service, and make sure that a bunch of separate accounts are maintained. This complexity removes one of the biggest advantages streaming is supposed to have over piracy: ease of use and effortlessness.

In contrast, TV comes with a built in meta-discovery system. You can effortlessly switch between channels and even quickly summon up an overall display of which channels have which.

It seems like there might be a hole opening in the market for a streaming aggregator which will provide a unified interface for managing your various subscriptions and switching between them (including to paid sources). It's too bad that every company would likely oppose such a service and thereby make it technically and legally impractical to maintain.

>"It's definitely a hassle to have to look through the various services to find which one actually has a bit of content, find the login for that service, and make sure that a bunch of separate accounts are maintained. "

A nice feature I recently discovered of the Roku. It exposes a "Search" feature that searches across all the various streaming channels and apps. Then, when you click on it, it takes you to the relevant page seamlessly (so long as you have a subscription to that app).

Not sure if the other streaming devices have that, but a Roku is all I've tried up until now.

Not OP but: I don't want to have 10 different accounts to search/look through. It's not undoable, but it's extremely inconvenient. I'm just not going to keep up with who has what on their streaming catalogue if I can get it for free, and usually at a better quality, elsewhere. I just want to be able to turn on my TV, type a word and start playing.

1) I don't own a TV because I find the hassle of dealing with a cable company and its business model excessive.

2) Dogpile vs. Google

About 85% of American households have cable TV. It sounds like your standards in this area are, ahem, a bit unusual. Perhaps it's not a great idea to extrapolate from your personal experience to the bulk of Americans and what they will or will not do when presented with a bunch of different streaming services.


> Combining the cord-cutting trend in recent years with the growing number of consumers who have never subscribed to cable television, a total of 24.6 million households, or 20.4% of all U.S. households, were cable-free at the end of 2015.

Just fyi.

And yeah, I don't really care about changing minds at this point. I've accepted I'm never going to be in the majority on anything.

There is no "should" here. Content creators are selling a non-fungible product because we've chosen to define it that way, for example in the DMCA, which signed onto a number of copyright treaties defining specific forms of copyright.

There is no god-given reason for any of these choices. Notably, there is widespread room for disagreement on what constitutes "fair use" of these items that circumscribes the space of what makes them a product. These are legal constructs, and they exist to the extent that they are enforceable by law.

Now, for example, we are seeing attempts to cast copyright ownership across particular tunes or styles of music; if this succeeds, this is a new paradigm in ownership, it is not some pre-ordained law.

Property of all forms is a legal construct, a man-made thing. Where we set the bounds determines, to a large extent, who ends up owning it and reaping the profits. For example, the DMCA provisions required certain proprietary anti-circumvention measures to be included in all audio-recording devices; it is difficult to argue that this is how the market "should work".

You're confusing a good being fungible with it being non-rivalrous and non-excludable.

Without legal protection, you're absolutely correct that a film cannot be excluded from consumption by non-payers and infinite reproducibility makes it non-rivalrous.

That doesn't make films fungible though. They are very far from being even imperfect substitutes. If I am somehow able to keep the latest Avengers film excludable then very few will be willing to accept the "substitute" of a knock-off rom com with C-list actors.

In markets, profits flow to whoever owns a monopoly.

> They are very far from being even imperfect substitutes. If I am somehow able to keep the latest Avengers film excludable then very few will be willing to accept the "substitute" of a knock-off rom com with C-list actors.

This goes too far. There are clearly better movies and worse movies, but if you have the choice between two movies of the same quality, they are basically fungible. If one of them is on the streaming service I subscribe to and the other one isn't, I know which one I'm going to watch and which one I'm not going to get around to.

There are plenty of non-fungible goods of this sort that are purely the result of legal constructions. The simplest example is the same movie available from two different vendors with separate digital rights systems. If I have purchased rights from one, it does not give me the right to consume the media from the other, even though it is arguably the same work. This means I can multiply the number of non-fungible versions of the same product by making it available on N different competing DRM systems.

Content is intrinsically non-fungible. People don't want a movie about fish; they want Finding Nemo. That's what gives content companies so much power even in this day and age when making and distributing content is so easy. But copyright law doesn't give them that power--its intrinsic to the nature of their product.

Unless people get annoyed enough to stop paying for streaming services and go back to piracy, and then all these businesses lose.

welcome back to the free service that is easier to use.

That doesn't really make any sense. Netflix doesn't want you to have a Hulu subscription. They'd love to be the one that has all the content. It's the content creators driving this. They don't want any one distributor becoming too powerful, because that distributor would then have too much leverage over the content creators.

>> If everyone has [list of services] then large rights holders extract more money.

> It's the content creators driving this.

You're agreeing with the post you replied to.

My reading of his argument is that it's a conspiracy between Netflix, Hulu, etc, to make more money for themselves. They're not the rights holders.

> They're not the rights holders.

I understand it, and I'm not sure why you felt the need to state it.

> My reading of his argument is that it's a conspiracy between Netflix, Hulu, etc, to make more money for themselves.

I was trying to find a nice way to say "I think that you read the argument wrong".

darpa_escapee's argument is about a conspiracy of content owners. The conspiracy that they're talking about is spreading content from the major providers across as many distribution channels as possible, so that one would have to subscribe to half a dozen services to get access to all the media produced by a particular content owner, for example.

Sorry if I wasn't clear. khederos clarified my argument well. Netflix is at the behest of the rights holders who want to collect licensing fees from as many customers as possible. One way to do that is to divide their content catalogs among many different services.

If you account for all the content discrepancies between each online video provider...ditching cable doesn't actually make much economic sense. The one reason I think many people -are- ditching cable is not because it's cheaper (when you're actually paying for it) it's that people are sharing accounts and don't bear the full brunt of the cost.

Or because I don't want ads, I want stuff on demand, I want my accounts to be independent of my physical location, I can pick and choose the services I'm subscribed to, and finally I want to use a streaming box for everything not a cable box, and streaming box, and a dvd player.

Ads have been rendered useless with DVR, and most every cable and satelite provider has online streaming for free as a part of their offering.

Most of those streaming services work on virtually every console and standalone streamers like AppleTV and Roku.

None of what you said holds water when you look at it objectively and economically. I hate cable companies as much as the next guy, but if you actually compare your budget on cable vs streaming, you'll often find that streaming costs more if you're trying to get close to the same offerings.

It really depends. There's very little that I watch on my TiVo or real-time. I certainly watch more through Amazon/Netflix plus DVDs.

Pretty much the only thing that keeps me from dropping cable TV is the fact that I can't get anything OTA so dropping cable TV would mean dropping TV 100%.

(I do periodically toy with the idea of idea of dropping down to non-HD basic cable. But it's a bit like dropping landline phone service. It would save some $$s but I would be giving up a service that I use, albeit lightly.)

Well, that was why I got Amazon Prime, and then they introduced ads. Albeit only ones for their content, but I didn't want to get constantly "informed" about a series I'd already completely watched between every damn episode of the thing I'd chosen to watch. If I run out of stuff to watch on Netflix I doubt Amazon will be my next port of call

Yeah, I won't get everything with all of these providers, but I try to prioritize my spending toward the companies that match the closest to what I want. Netflix tends to be at the top.

You're asserting that with cable you can watch what you want when you want? Never had that cable subscription.

Between many channels on-demand programming and DVR, cable often isn't too far from "what you want when you want".

Ditching cable doesn't make economic sense if you're watching everything they're sending your way.

On demand shows and no ads.

> annoy the hell out of the average consumer

Conversely, the more market power netflix gains, the better they can negotiate with more rightsholders for more content while piracy -- as a free grey market alternative -- hopefully keeps them from abusing their position too much.

I thought that had already happened, but not with that outcome.

A few years back [0] Netflix was getting too strong, and fearing the iTunes effect the studios pushed back and stopped licensing their best stuff to Netflix.

0: http://www.dailytech.com/Hollywood+Executives+Fear+Netflixs+...

Yeah, but everything's part of an extended negotiation process. How strong was Netflix really a few years ago with 20% of HBO's subscriber base? Even today they are still smaller although perhaps equal in revenue.

We can only hope.

That's one thing I really like about the sonos app - you can put dozens of music services into it, and it gives them a unified interface.

Is there any app like that but standalone, where you don't need a special speaker for it?



Shhh! Don't give them any ideas!

Still it's not much different from Hulu having exclusive rights to stream airing episodes of television shows. Someone has to be paid for all of this work.

Besides, ITS NETFLIX. Everyone has a Netflix account or a family member's login. If this were done on some other kind of service, then we might reasonably expect a backlash.

> Besides, ITS NETFLIX. Everyone has a Netflix account or a family member's login

That's hilarious, where did you get that idea?

Netflix has roughly 35 million accounts in the US, out of a population of over 300 million. It's the most popular streaming service, but stream isn't that popular yet... internet denizens always forget we are a tiny minority of the US population.

It's not nearly as tiny as you make it out to be. It's not like everyone would ever get their own account. In my household of four people, we have four profiles. Most accounts probably cover several people. I'd be interested to learn how many Netflix account profiles there are in the US. It would be a much more meaningful way of calculating Netflix's reach. I'd guess that well over half the population has access to a Netflix account.

> I'd be interested to learn how many Netflix account profiles there are in the US.

Exactly, that's the real question here. Anecdotally, about half the people I know have access to Netflix.... but that's heavily skewed towards young tech workers. I'm not sure how that matches the general population.

Also remember that there are many Netflix customers that use the physical DVD service without any streaming (I know many older parents in this group).

> or a family member's login

Which accounts for both those who are using a relative's login, or multiple family members in a household. There's five people in my house using my account, all immediate relatives. A bit more than a year ago, household penetration of streaming was 40% in the US[1] (combined Netflix, Hulu and Amazon). The original statement was obvious hyperbole, but I wouldn't be surprised if well over 100 million people had access to Netflix through those ~35 million accounts.

1: http://www.nytimes.com/2015/03/12/business/nielsen-reports-2...

> The original statement was obvious hyperbole

You'd be surprised, I know many folks that are convinced over half the country uses Netflix. Filter bubbles can heavily influence those perceptions.

> There's five people in my house using my account, all immediate relatives.

My dorm shared an account in college... we had 8 people on the same account. 5 now have their own accounts, including myself, and the rest stopped using Netflix. Conversely, my parents and their neighbors are DVD-only Netflix customers.

I think the truth is somewhere between 100 million and 35 million streamers, which still puts it at (late) "early adoption". In that context the spread of streaming exclusives is a little worrying... "Stream anything at any time for a flat rate" is a very disruptive vision. "Some services have some of what you want" is a much weaker sell.

More relevant: 35M accounts in ~125M households in the US. ~25% penetration into households (throwing in a fudge factor for overlap). Certainly easy for an HN poster to be in a situation where everyone they know has it.

"As of April 2016, Netflix reported over 81 million subscribers worldwide, including more than 46 million in the U.S.[0]"


At best that's going to create a monopoly.

> Everyone has a Netflix account or a family member's login.


> Besides, ITS NETFLIX. Everyone has a Netflix account

How about no?

Nope. I will never do business with Netflix, because they sent me unsolicited commercial E-mail. I do not do business with SPAMMERS.

It's dumb, but monopoly is another way to have everything available at the same place.

That's not the right solution. The right solution is opening up intellectual property and copyright laws so that unfair and anti-competitive market conditions stopping forming everywhere around them.

Because the companies that profit off our extremist copyright laws control the media, they don't talk about this very much, but copyright, as currently implemented, is extremely unfair for the consumer, to the extent that many consumers break copyright laws several times a day and often don't even know they've done anything illegal.

We need serious intellectual property modernization and reform.

Why shouldn't content creators get to choose where they sell their content? Should Tesla be forced to sell its cars through GM and Ford dealerships so you don't have to go to more than one place to go car shopping?

Anyway, the alternative would be worse. If there was no reason to pick one streaming provider over another on the basis of content, one would quickly become a monopoly, which would be bad for both content creators and consumers.

>Why shouldn't content creators get to choose where they sell their content? Should Tesla be forced to sell its cars through GM and Ford dealerships so you don't have to go to more than one place to go car shopping?

This is addressed by something called the "first sale doctrine", which states that IP holders only have control over the direct sale between themselves and the other party, and cannot exert control over second, third, or later sales.

Tesla, of course, is not obligated to offer their cars for sale in any particular venue. They cannot, however, stop someone else who possesses a Tesla car from offering it for sale either as a private party or through a third-party dealer. This is why you can go to the Ford dealer and leave with a used Honda. Honda didn't give that car to Ford, but it legally came into the dealer's possession through an intermediary, and thus, the Ford dealer has every right to sell it on their own terms.

The difference here is that we're discussing direct physical goods that may contain intellectual property, whereas Netflix and the internet remove the necessity of the physical medium. This is really where our existing technology access laws begin to fall down. They just do not adequately contemplate a world that does not require transactions of hard physical tokens to exchange substantial sums of information. Of course, the very fact that computer networks don't require that is what gives them their power.

>Anyway, the alternative would be worse. If there was no reason to pick one streaming provider over another on the basis of content, one would quickly become a monopoly, which would be bad for both content creators and consumers.

I don't think this makes sense. Just the opposite is true. If everyone could license the content at a reasonable price and show it on their streaming service, the best streaming service in terms of actual quality would be able to win. Under the current regime, if you don't have both the capital and the clout to spend months in secret meetings with the big media companies, your video streaming startup will simply never gain steam at all. It's much better for the competitive landscape if everyone is legally allowed to show the content.

Given that we are talking about digital files rather than physical goods, I don't think the first sale doctrine is the appropriate precedent to look for. However, when you say,

> If everyone could license the content at a reasonable price...

...I think you're touching another precedent: compulsory licensing (or statutory licensing, in UK parlance).


This is an interesting idea, although it'd be tough to get the right people to agree to it. It also raises the question on just what streaming services would be competing on, if not content. UX, perhaps?

My guess is that under a scenario like this, the price for any one service would be substantially higher than what we're paying now for Netflix and competitors. I'd personally be just fine with a service that had, say, a $30-40 month range, even if it were partially supported by ads the way Hulu is (although it'd be nicer if, like Hulu, you could pay a little more to make most of the ads go away).

And of course, this is why Netflix DVD's still offer far better selection than Netflix Streaming.

> This is really where our existing technology access laws begin to fall down. They just do not adequately contemplate a world that does not require transactions of hard physical tokens to exchange substantial sums of information.

You are the one who is trying to mis-apply a legal doctrine developed for physical objects (first sale doctrine) to digital files.

I was replying directly to the poster's analogy, when he said Tesla isn't obliged to go through a Ford dealer. While the first-sale doctrine isn't directly applicable in this case because there is no direct sale and no physical good transferred into the buyer's possession, the principle should be, and we should make laws that respect that.

The old adage is "possession is 9/10ths of the law". We need to think about how that applies in the digital age, when much of what we "own" is only represented by a relatively small handful of bits on a drive in a datacenter somewhere, and not in the legal owner's direct physical possession.

I have season pack DVDs and I have season packs I've bought on Amazon Video (I also have over 200 games on Steam, where this issue is probably much more salient). Ideally, the medium wouldn't matter, legally speaking; what would matter is that I owned a copy of something. As it stands, I have substantially more rights with a DVD than with a bit assigned to my user profile in Amazon's database somewhere. We need to find a way to port the first-sale doctrine to the digital world, and otherwise update our arcane technology access laws.

Separately but relatedly, we also need to weaken copyright protections substantially to grant a more even balance between the financial interests of the rightsholders and the cultural interests of the public at large, and to correct the economic inequities that flow from government's grant of a practically-eternal (since most copyrights that come into being today are not going to expire until most or all of us are dead), almost-unlimited (since copyrights allow the rightsholder to squash almost any use and since it requires millions of dollars to fight the media conglomerates and establish as valid just one single, isolated usage as legally fair) monopoly to the rightsholder.

> ... grant a more even balance between the financial interests of the rightsholders and the cultural interests of the public at large...

You mean the public that still exchanges terabytes [1] of pirated content every month in the US alone that the rights holders are unable to stop?

1. Sandvine estimates single digit percentage of daily Internet traffic in the US is BitTorrent. That is huge in absolute numbers.

Yes, and this speaks to the problem our laws have. The public has, by its behavior, manifestly rejected current copyright law. Many break copyright law daily without understanding that they're doing so. We should amend the law to be something that normal people can conform with.

EDIT: Also, it's improper to classify all BitTorrent traffic as piracy. It was specifically designed to transfer large files. Applications like World of Warcraft use it internally to distribute game files.

What about people saying "Fuck you I won't pay". I understand that some things like with internet/cell-phone which are utilities is hard, but maybe it shouldn't be the same for entertainment ?

Yeah, except they put exclusive in the headline because it draws positive attention.

I'm not real optimistic that people will ever come to see exclusive media deals as contracts designed to increase revenues.

Or that they wanted monopoly power so badly they paid extra for it.

iTunes and Apple Music exclusives are the worst, they sort of are the ones that got the ball rolling on this.

Cable is the worst. I shouldn't have to pay for channels I don't want. It should be à la carte.

Streaming services are the worst. I shouldn't have to subscribe to a half dozen different services. Someone should sell a bundle that gives me access to all of them for a lower price.

Yeah, I've always thought it was weird that people say they wanted "a la carte" but that's been available for years through iTunes and Amazon Video. You can buy individual episodes of practically any show. That's a la carte. Getting a channel isn't a la carte, unless you want every program that channel produces (unlikely).

But a la carte hasn't taken off in streaming services, so now we're recreating channels. Next will be bundles where you can get Netflix and Hulu and Amazon together. Blah.

The Secret History Of Your Cable Bill (2013) http://www.npr.org/sections/money/2013/09/27/226891181/episo...

Unpopular, but without cable subsidizing costs of various networks through packages, we wouldn't have tons of cable channels that grew up to be great, like AMC and FX. The one exception to this is the ESPN subsidy, which is insane. If ESPN could actually be opted out of cable bills would be fairly cheap.

Disagree. The big players are leeching money that COULD go to small players if we got to choose where our money went. And then the cable companies throw you a few 'small' channels so you feel like the little guy wins occasionally.

Instead we have all those channels in a perpetual race to the bottom to attract just enough eyeballs to be worth "keeping on the payroll" of the bundle.

The racing footage I used to be able to get on Speedvision (on the rare occasion where my local provider HAD Speedvision!) was worth far more to me than the $0.20 they got from my subscription.

I for one, welcome our a-la-carte overlords, where my dollars go to the content I want.

I don't think it is so clear that putting your dollars where you want gets you more topical programming than putting up with opaque bundles.

(Say there's $30 on average of revenue in the cable bundle with only $15 of it being desired spending on average. The channels get a lot more revenue with the opaque bundles, and they are still competing to some extent for the revenue.)

Unpopular? That's simple fact!

Here's a NYTimes article from 2012 titled "The 'Mad Men' Economic Miracle". http://www.nytimes.com/2012/12/09/magazine/the-mad-men-econo...

AMC was making $30 million per MONTH off 80 million subscribers despite Breaking Bad having less than 3 million viewers.

Why is ESPN an exception?

Their price is a reflection of how much people want it. ESPN (and sports as a whole) are a big driver of cable subscriptions, which helps all cable channels.

We opted out of the sports tv package on DirecTv. Their page says that it's a $13.99/month set of channels.

You don't pay for channels you don't want. You pay for the channels you do want.


Sling[1] is the closest we can get right now. Eventually, channel subscriptions will be available through something like an App Store and just as easy to manage as an recurring subscription app.

[1] https://www.sling.com/

This is why economics is my favorite subject: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Product_bundling

How is netflix any different. I don't care about Disney movies or all teh kids content they have. Should I get an a la carte netflix plan with only the content I want? Of course not.

Now how is that any different from cable?

Sounds like you should buy just the shows you want off iTunes or Amazon.

Piracy has never been easier or faster and a 2TB HHD that plugs into your router is $80.

This explains why I still buy physical copies of music and TV shows when possible. If I can't actually own it then I don't own it. Can't fleece a sheep that won't come to the barn.

I agree, it's quite frustrating. Oh well, back to torrents I guess!

This is reminiscent of 'patented' in consumer literature.

In my mind, exclusive content is great for a business and bad for the consumer but for some reason people think its a good idea to market it to consumers. If you said Netflix has popular XYZ shows and they stopped being available elsewhere, it would avoid people realizing that Netflix is now playing the same games as the cable mafia did/does and instead people would just be happy that they could watch things fully on demand with all the conveniences of netflix.

I completely agree. Exclusive deals are anticompetitive.

I can understand why they would market it. If you love Disney, now you know that you need to have a Netflix account to watch it, so Netflix is using it to attract customers.

> for some reason people think its a good idea to market it to consumers.

I'm skeptical of the assertion that most people care, at all. Outside of specific circles (overrepresented on HN), I know vanishingly few people who are willing (able?) to tie company's actions to their market-level consequences.

Marketing this seems like a no brainer: allowing consumers to think this feature isn't exclusive to you just means that they're more comfortable switching to or picking your competitors. Being clear about exclusivity means that you're shifted well up the "must-have" spectrum for many consumers.

totally agreed that US consumers != typical HN reader. and also agreed on it being possible the good outweighs the bad from a user acquisition standpoint.

"I'm skeptical of the assertion that most people care, at all" - agreed BUT - do you think them advertising exclusiveness is something people care about? because if only a few people remember its exclusive (and wouldn't otherwise have picked up netflix) then it could be that the effect of the consumers paying attention and being annoyed is greater than those converted by exclusiveness

> do you think them advertising exclusiveness is something people care about?

I absolutely do. Lucasfilm, Disney, Pixar, and Marvel are probably top of the list for studios with actual (and powerful) brand recognition. (By contrast, most movie goers probably couldn't tell you which specific movies Miramax or Universal or whatever make).

People see this and it translates as "if I want to stream The Avengers or Frozen or Star Wars or Iron Man or [etc], I better get Netflix". It's hard to think of a set of movies with better brand recognition.

This is the culmination of some very old news, when Netflix outbid Starz in 2012 for Disney's "pay TV" rights:


Why September if the deal started in 2016? It covers movies that premiere in 2016 or later, and September is nine months after the January 29 release of The Finest Hours[1], the first Disney movie expected to be exclusive to Netflix.

[1] — I earlier opined that Zootopia would kick it off, but The Finest Hours was Disney's first 2016 release and since 7-9 months is the typical wait for a pay-TV window, it seems Disney movies will be on Netflix 9 months after release.

In other words they made a deal with just Disney, which happens to own those other three studios.

And they'll probably own Netflix soon too.

What? netflix's market cap is ~25% of what disney is worth, I would be shocked to see disney or really any company make such a large acquisition without it really just being a merger.

What? I get Netflix is valuable but to say they would merge with Disney really seems delusional to me. Disney which owns ABC, ESPN, other tv channels, movie studios, merchandise.

You can look at stock price sure but Disney revenue has been going up by billions year over year and I don't see that changing much, even if ESPN starts to shrink, because of the valuable movie IP they have.

Some of the recent chip maker mergers come to mind but that's a different market - when does a company merge with a company that by revenue is ~10x smaller and by net income 2 orders of magnitude smaller?

I wasn't serious.

> From September onwards, Netflix will become the exclusive US pay TV home of the latest films from Disney, Marvel, Lucasfilm and Pixar.

Does that mean we will have to pay to watch them? Makes sense from a market standpoint since they are likely to be highly sought after but this pay per movie looks like new turf for netflix.

Perhaps it shouldn't be too surprising given the ongoing spat between Amazon and Disney. Sad to see we are at a place where competition is high but rarely makes the best decisions for users.

I would think "Pay TV" refers to monthly subscription TV, as opposed to free over the air TV, and a generic term for cable/satellite. Pay per movie is usually called pay per view.

I would have assumed the US pay TV Home of the latest films from Disney and its subsidiaries would be the Disney Channel?

You'd think but even historically that's been pretty rare. It's so family focused that a large amount of content isn't appropriate for their audience. I thought Freeform (formerly ABC Family) was going to get some of it, but I guess guaranteed revenue from Netflix is worth it in a world of declining cable subscriptions.

I agree it's a bit confusing but I think they mean "pay TV" in the sense that Netflix costs money. So these movies won't be available on HBO or Showtime or any other cable networks.

HBO and Showtime are both "pay TV" as well, you can't get either without paying a separate subscription fee on top of your basic cable package.

Fairly certain you can get HBO without cable now. Not sure about showtime.

I reïnstalled Plex after 5 months of Netflix... I think the "not coöperation" of content creators is killing it all.

I'm not paying for 3-4 streaming services with all exclusive rights, nor i'm willing to constantly change apps for finding the right movie.

This is probably why they started blocking proxies all over the world in the last couple of months, after years of not caring.

> Netflix will become the exclusive US pay TV home of the latest films from Disney, Marvel, Lucasfilm and Pixar

What does that even mean? Can someone who understands the lingo clarify this for me? Does that mean I'll have to pay per-view to see Disney content on Netflix?

"Netflix will become the only place in the US that you can give money ($8/mo for streaming-only, for example) to see Disney, Marvel, Lucasfilm and Pixar films. Not Comcast, Not Starz, Not HBO. ONLY Netflix. Woo! Go us! (They may still appear for free on Disney-owned-ABC over-the-air stations, but don't count on it.)"

You will still be able to buy and rent these films of iTunes or Google Play, just not on subscription packages from HBO, Amazon, Hulu, etc.

Right. Because "Digital Downloads" and "Digital Rental" are different from "Streaming TV".


No, "pay TV" means TV you have to pay extra (outside the cost of a basic cable package) to access. Usually this payment is made in the form of a monthly subscription fee. That category includes Netflix, but it also includes HBO, Showtime, Starz, etc.

> No, "pay TV" means TV you have to pay extra (outside the cost of a basic cable package) to access.

"Pay TV" is in contrast to "broadcast TV". A basic cable package would be included in "pay TV". HBO, Showtime, and Starz are "premium channels", which would be a subset of pay TV. Netflix is also a subset of pay TV, but I think that most people wouldn't include it in a list of premium channels. CNN, FX, and other cable networks are examples of "Pay TV" that would be left out of your definition, as I understand it.

it means it has exclusivity over channels like HBO, Stars, Cinemax. It also includes services like Hulu.

What it doesn't bar is Disney movies showing up on channels that don't necessarily require a subscription, like ABC (Disney owned network).

Interesting - so this is really the rubber hitting the road then [1]:

"The goal is to become HBO faster than HBO can become us."

[1] http://gizmodo.com/5980103/netflix-the-goal-is-to-become-hbo...

Demonstrates the error of the "long tail" fad some years back. Dazzled by the prospect of everything being available online, pundits failed to grasp the value of content and the ensuing turf wars. Netflix was the prime example, hoping to carry every movie for a trivial flat fee; didn't work out that way. Closest we've got is the likes of iTunes, with a broad spectrum available $1-7 rental (vs the unfulfilled promise of Netflix, $8/month).

That's cause the movie/television television industry is valued at 150 billion dollars a year where as the music industry is 15 [1]. Multiply the music industry price standard by their relative sizes and you'd get a $100 dollars a month which is about the cost of your top cable prescription for having access to just about everything [2].

Did you think they were going to get the same value for 1/10 the cost?

[1]: first google search result :/

[2]: more googling

There are two words OP omitted in the title from the quote in the article that make the scope of the statement seem bigger than it is: "Netflix will become the exclusive US pay TV home of the latest films from Disney, Marvel, Lucasfilm and Pixar."

I know that companies want to set up exclusives and other things so consumers will feel “forced” to buy entire services just to obtain the killer apps (or movies, or games, or whatever). In reality, I am sick and tired of being expected to pay for stuff I don’t want just to get what I do want. I have been buying far less over time, and I have been discovering how little I care about movies and TV shows after all. Oh hey, it’s sunny outside! Oh look, there’s so much more to do in life!

Media companies have refused to learn from the $0.99 iTunes store years ago: people don’t want albums anymore, they want songs. They do want your TV show, they just want to download it from anywhere they damn well please. They do want your game, they just don’t want to have to buy an entire new console to get it. And so on. If you’re supposed to be in the business of selling X then sell it; don’t conjure up scheme after scheme to try to force consumers to get other crap. And definitely don’t complain when they see through it all and refuse to give you a dime.

iTunes and Amazon sells shows a la carte. What's the problem?

I find it funny that when exclusivity is ever brought up it's talked about like some kind of conspiracy to take money from customers. It isn't a conspiracy and there aren't men in boardrooms laughing menacingly while smoking cigars. The truth is this is just the result of how the system works. That is capitalism and normal competition.

If all the streaming services offer the same content then none of them are special. And if one service ends up offering something you can only get from them then they have a leg up on the competition. Soon other services start trying to compete by getting exclusive content and eventually anyone who doesn't play the game is pushed out.

If we're serious about hating exclusive and if we want to move away from them then you need to talk about the system that causes it to happen.

Exclusive releases are sickening. I wonder when creators will start releasing their films through all distributors evenly?

It's easy to see why it's like that. For example, there's a market (a country) with 5 players. Each offers you 500 Euros for a run of your long-forgotten movie. That's 2500 Euros if you got them all to buy it. One of them says they will buy it, as an exclusive, for 5000 Euros. It's as simple as that. I work in this sector (not the business side though) and that's what I see each day. To add onto that, sometimes it's even that one (from our example here) offers you 2000 for exclusive, and that's what you take because others won't buy it, or one or two will. You get the idea.

I see, if it works that way, it's not good for both end users and creators.

Why doesn't it work like this for example?

Distributor gradually sells the film, and gets percentage of each sale (and the rest goes to creators). Then creators benefit from using as many distributors as possible, because it will maximize profit in the long run. If they are just paid once by the distributor, then sure, they can't rely on potentially growing amount of sales over time.

In case of games it works like I said above. And in case of music it can work that way too. So why not for films?

There are various distribution methods and even new ones being explored. It's a layered issue with a lot of caveats. I'll try to explain the problematics of it.

What you have described essentially exists now with video-on-demand (tied with IPTVs usually) that have, essentially, displaced brick and mortar video rentals. It's more of a case of you getting percentage out of them then they out of you. That's due in part because of large user bases and monopolies. If you want viewers to rent or buy your stuff you have to go to the larger players, and they are aware of that.

There's another issue at play here, in contrast with games. Films and television programmes have a life cycle that is usually tied to initial theatrical or television run and that is decoupled from its life in rental and buying later on. Both business lives of a movies don't even have to be tackled by the same business entity/owner. In order for a film or series to live through direct sales it needs marketing or very strong brand recognition (and even then marketing). Most films do not have that. Most rights holders hold more than one film too. For a successful rental/vod/buying there needs to be marketing effort and in order to mitigate that industry has devised film channels and specialised channels that run stuff you might be a part of. That way, all of marketing is concentrated on channel's programming and stuff is pushed onto that. Trouble is, those channels do not like if stuff is also available on vod that isn't theirs. Another trouble is that rights holders do not like to sell one movie at a time, it's not viable. Usually, what happens, is that rights holders know they have a strong movie and package several weak ones with it in order to push sales for those as well. It's also common for a channel to seek for a particular title and they get pushed other content in a package to them, or they want a package, etc. Various permutations of that exists.

What happens with vod is that sales are, for the most content, dead. Dumping your catalogue onto a vod renders your sales with channels dead as well. So, it's a bit of a conundrum from which side to tackle the issue at all.

Those are just my initial thoughts on what I see each day in that space. It has a lot of intricate details layered below and above that, but it all boils down to the fact that channels render money for your entire catalogue and vod only for a select few titles. If you want to sell your entire catalogue, you go through channels since they buy those great titles of yours as well as packaged crap ones. VOD is a harsh mistress that loves only the pretty ones and you still have to tackle marketing for that by yourself and accept whatever the gods of the vod platform will give you.

tl;dr; conundrum

Thanks for the detailed explanation. But what is inherently different in films as in art form that dictates such convoluted distribution methods? Higher cost of production? Games also can have big budgets (admittedly usually not as big though), and there is some similarity with life cycle too. I.e. there is the initial rapid sales period, when some new game comes out. That's usually when developers get the huge chunk of their sales, and try to recover the cost of production. And also, during this period the biggest effort goes into marketing.

Then there is the period of gradual sales, i.e. people who don't buy the game because it's new / hyped, but because they like the genre, discovered it years later and so on (assuming it's a good game, and not some junk that gets forgotten for good as soon as it comes out). Over time such sales can be even significant, but they don't directly contribute to critical expenses recovery.

So for games both use cases are commonly addressed through similar distributors, yet for films this somehow poses a problem.

That front business scenario is pretty much the same. You have an initial run (with marketing and different venues) and that's it. Difference is in the life after it. It's not uncommon for different companies to buy rights to older films and then do business on top of that.

You're forgetting a key factor here. Unlike games sales channels, films and tv shows also have programme channels which are willing to pay for running your old shows. And, unlike vod/direct sales, they tend to generate money for all of your catalogue. You kind of have that with games through those bundles every now and then. Issue is that, with game analogy, those bundle sellers (who upfront the marketing for your old stuff) aren't willing to have your stuff if it's on steam as well. Also, they don't pay from what they sell, but a fixed fee for each run.

So, it kind of is like games and isn't at the same time. Namely due to tv channels which generate the most money for that after life. Also, take into account that most rights holders have a catalogue of items which has dead weight in them which they try to capitalise on. Hence package deals and channels wanting or being forced into getting them in order to get hot items. That's, I presume, reason why you see, in games, distributor bundles as well. Business ideas have converged already, apart from tv channels where there's no analogy in games. I'm still waiting to see what will become of widespread and free platforms like youtube where, I am sure, there will be sponsored screenings of certain parts, if not whole, catalogues as well.

Interesting. Bundles do appear even if games are sold through competitors. For instance, while Humble Bundle were probably the pioneer of it, you can now often see bundles of discounted games sold on GOG, usually either from some single publisher, or themed in certain way (those games already should exist in their catalog, but that bundle offering is usually a special sale event). Most of the time those same games are also available through Steam, so there is no exclusivity involved.

Regarding TV channels - I think they are slowly declining and eventually will die out completely, because they aren't really a flexible method, that's why you don't see anything similar in games which is a newer industry and has less legacy baggage to deal with.

I'm not sure where it will lead, but exclusivity is not good for consumers. This all boils down to trademarks and regionalities. Not something we've seen much of in games since consoles. TV has been around for some time now and TV Stations needed (still need) licenses from local governments and it's not a global play, until as of recent. Rights and global market are still feeling each other out. Music kind of went through the same process via Apple's iTunes, but it's also kind of a different business. With music you have other streams of revenue as well - live performance, different rights to it (song, performance, etc.), etc.

With TV channels going away, my instinct was the same - being oriented more towards "I'll watch what I want and when I want" and different outlets that enabled that have been booming (youtube, torrents, netflix-like platforms, etc). However, TV is bringing in more business than ever. It seems that it's not a zero-sum game between those two. In fact, it seems those two aren't even competing.

If it's ever clear that eliminating certain types of deals (eg exclusive) is beneficial from a revenue standpoint, studios would likely do so.

Normally it should be beneficial for creators simply because no exclusivity increases reach. Wider reach = more potential users who pay for it. Why would anyone avoid it, unless there is some sick collusion or unhealthy market situation when publisher and distributor are merged?

Generally today the cost of an exclusive license is more than the cost of the sum of all possible non-exclusive licenses. So for the creator it's more profitable to seek an exclusive license.

It's true that "Wider reach = more potential users who pay for it" but it's the amount they pay that's more important.

oh well. back to buying old dvds whenever they go on sale. As long as you don't buy anything recent some of the prices are dirt cheap.

It's still more expensive than monthly netflix but at least I own it rather than having anxiety over losing access to it.

Disney movies never get cheap. They have done really well for themselves in their ability to maintain prices even for movies that are decades old.

This is I think the point where I am starting to get a little afraid of Netflix instead of rooting for them. They are becoming a monopoly that is going to be tough to displace. While they were producing their own original content, it was awesome. Now it seems like you'll basically be either subscribing to Netflix or torrenting content, but you won't have a third option. Having said that, this is a brilliant move on their part.

Yes. The article is as notable for the dreariness of the movies available before September as it is for the exclusive content available in September. The message seems to be, "If you can tolerate three months of Adam Sandler, obscure indie documentaries, a couple of oldies from 2001, and unheard-of Netflix originals, you get to watch Disney! And that's your only option!" Thanks Netflix.

This is big news but I'm not sure how big it will impact consumers because of Disney Anywhere i.e. When you buy any Disney movie from any platform and link it to DisneyAnywhere, it's available to watch on any major service e.g. Apple, Amazon, Vudu, Google

One thing people aren't mentioning is that this is 'pay TV'. So Netflix is starting to sell short term rentals?

I think the 'pay TV' just refers to the specific monthly payment for Netflix. It's setting it up as a competitor with HBO but not bundled channels with hidden payments like the Disney Channel.

That seems like a pretty low-key announcement for what sounds like a blockbuster (no pun) deal?

If I were Disney, I'd create my own service. HBO claims such a thing is hard but I don't buy it. Charge $50-100 for some ever-changing sub-set of the library. Profit. Still provides plenty of room to cut deals with all the movie services and maintain some artificial scarcity.

I hate the idea of having to subscribe to a dozen different services for different content I may or may not want, but I guess it's more along the line of paying for only what you want.

Me, too. But Disney is pretty unique, especially for kids.

They did in Europe. It's called Disney Life. https://disneylife.com

Somewhat OT question:

I'd like to watch Avengers: Age of Ultron, but as far as I can tell there is no way to rent it digitally. You can only purchase. If you want to rent it you have to rent a physical disc from RedBox.

Yet I can rent Deadpool and many other Marvel properties.

Does anyone know why Ultron seems to be singled out?

This SciFi StackExchange answer has a good explanation:


Essentially, Fox owns the rights for X-Men and Deadpool is an X-Men universe character. Fox and Disney have different views on rental and sale windows.

Age of Ultron is not available for rent because it is on Starz. This is similar exclusivity deal but with traditional premium TV channel. This happens with most movies. They are available for rent for a while on streaming sites, then can't be rented when on pay TV, and finally can be rented again after year or two.

I recently digitally rented Avengers: Age of Ultron on VidAngel. https://www.vidangel.com?vip=yvkbv6kw

I love the $1 SD or $2 HD rental VidAngel offers on latest DVD releases. Not sure how long this will last though.

Despite Deadpool being a Marvel property, the movie itself was primarily produced/distributed by 20th Century Fox, so it's probably just different licensing between different companies.

It's a brilliant deal from business standpoint; from consumer's standpoint, not so much.

more accessible than having to get Starz.

Like others have said, Netflix is acting like a channel. Unfortunately, Americans love exclusives. When people talk about Playstation v. XBOX, they're not talking about the UI or controllers anymore, but the exclusives. Exclusives are bad for the content and for the consumers. Content tied to a platform that loses, moonlights or just fades away also fades away. I know a friend that really wanted to play an oldschool Buffy XBOX 1 game and would pay for it, but it was only released on the XBOX. Other titles from the period released on PC still exist in markets, but Microsoft obsoleted not only the console, but the content. Maybe Microsoft will make it so you can buy it again in HD on the XBOX TWO, but it really wasn't that popular so most old content is now dead until someone illegally emulates it. Bad for content, bad for consumers, but unfortunately good for business.

What I want from a content delivery service is for them to deliver content, not produce it and not cultivate exclusives. Their business-model changes when they wear three or four hats and who they're serving also tends to change. I like to keep it simple. If you make your service convenient and the content you sell convincing enough, I'll shop there. Just like any store. You don't have to be the only store in town that can sell pickles as long as your store is in a convenient location, you take cash and have a value-priced variety of products. You can bypass all that if you convince all pickle-manufacturers to only sell to your store though. People shouldn't applaud this.

The subscription model makes this more difficult because you become dependent on the store and not the product-producer. Ownership is more ambiguous and who gets paid and how much becomes the storefront's decision as they gain adoption (see Amazon). I wrote more about what I think would be great at an airplane level on another post[0]. I think it's going to get worse before it gets better. It might take a MtGox level Steam shuttering for people to start valuing ownership again.

[0] https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=11623806

At least until these brands have the tech stack to vertically integrate and do it on their own, or until they get preferential treatment on another digital supplier, or better terms (like vevo).

Seems unaccessible, archived copy: http://archive.is/Zqo56

This summer: [A bunch of films you've already seen]

From September onwards, Netflix will become the exclusive US pay TV home of the latest films from Disney, Marvel, Lucasfilm and Pixar.

This was the title I wanted, but alas I was limited to 80 characters.

Hi Netflix, can you be the exclusive US TV Home of Disney, Marvel, Lucasfilm, and Pixar in France too? It would be nice, thank you.

Exclusive rights is only good for the two people that made the deal.

I'd be thrilled if this meant I could rent any of the recent Marvel movies. Prime and Google video seem to be pushing the buy option exclusively for new movies these days.

Interesting to see how all these film industries will compete on the home living room space.

If you're upset about exclusivity in this deal I don't understand. These movies won't be on Hulu or Prime after this deal, but they aren't there currently. A whole bunch of movies are going to become more available for more people.

> If you're upset about exclusivity in this deal I don't understand.

I don't personally care a whole lot but it's not difficult at all to understand why. The fact that they weren't on any services earlier left the possibility open for them to come to an arbitrary amount of services. Given how ubiquitous streaming services are becoming, one could reasonably consider this somewhat inevitable. The announcement of the exclusivity deal has collapsed the possibility space so now it's certain that they won't be coming to the other services (for the lifetime of the deal).

New content: positive reaction. Exclusivity: very negative reaction. The negative reaction wins in this case. If I'm paying either way, you are simply limiting the services I can pay on. That sucks.

translated as... "they are asking more money for their content than we can give them from monthly subscription fees alone... we'll have to force advertisements".

We'll bring the Netflix, you bring the chill (AC).

Hey look, more reasons to pirate media due to a lack of options for receiving it.

Netflix is easier to use and safer than pirating. Seriously, for the price of a chipotle (steak) burrito a month you have access to their entire online library. You'd pay more than that to go see one movie a month at the theater.

Pirating content is morally wrong. If you actually disagreed with the media industry, you would not consume their products instead of stealing access to them.

Disregard me if you live in a place where you don't have legal channels of media consumption available...

> Pirating content is morally wrong.

I don't know. Through piracy, especially poor people in developing countries have had access to a lot of software, books, education, even medicine, that they simply could not have been able to afford otherwise.

Piracy of expensive software by individuals in developing countries could prevent local software companies from starting up and supplying that need or could stunt the growth of open source alternatives.

I think arguing against education and books is harder, but generally I will stand by my statement that stealing is wrong.

If you're interested in debate, you should make an argument defending your position. Otherwise, it makes for very boring conversation.

If you do make an argument, I'd advise you to leave the whole "stealing" part aside. It's really only a weak shortcut to proving the immorality of content piracy, and it's better to avoid such tricks and show the full argument.

Still doesn't justify an 22 year old American downloading Frozen.

So after you pay for direct tv to get access to sports, and netflix to get access to this premium content, and hulu to get access to that premium content, and amazon to get access to the other premium content, and cable to get cable channels, and hbo to get access to game of thrones, it's a little bit more than the price of a burrito.

I would not stand on morality for an industry that thrives on economic inequality and lack of diversity.

What other industries do demand access to all products for a flat fee?

Any one of those providers has more content than any one person can reasonably consume.

If you want to have a huge variety of premium content, don't get angry it costs a lot more than a barebone package.

If I go to an Indian buffet, I'm not angry they don't have general tsos. Even though it would be great if they did.

Fine, then prioritize what you want to pay for. Don't resort to stealing your entertainment. We aren't talking about a necessity of life here.

You'd have better luck telling people to stop doing illegal drugs.

Asserting that piracy implies stealing does not make it so.

Your conclusion, of course, makes sense in your framework. Pirates reject that framework.

I'm sorry, but you are wrong. This isn't debatable. Piracy is stealing. You are consuming content without paying for it. This isn't "my framework", it is the truth.

Of course it's debatable. Hell, the US Supreme Court disagrees with you (see Dowling v. United States). How can you say the matter is settled?

If I steal a farm's tractor, the farm no longer has a tractor. If I make an exact duplicate copy of that tractor, the farm still has its tractor.

You are making the argument that making a duplicate tractor is stealing a tractor.

With digital piracy, nobody actually loses anything. They don't gain anything, but they don't lose anything either. You can call this whatever you want. To me, the net harm is significantly different than if you took money or property away from someone, so using the same word to describe both situations is inaccurate.

You could use your logic to justify sneaking into a movie theater and watching a movie without paying for a ticket. Would you consider that stealing?

That's closer to stealing. You're taking certain resources, like a seat, air conditioning, power, cost of attendant salary, etc that on a small scale is barely noticeable as a cost, but the more people do it, the more it costs the theater. Conversely, the movie industry does not lose more money when lots of people pirate movies; they simply don't receive extra revenue.

In some cases the entertainment industry benefits from pirating. Some studies have shown how pirating can drive demand, and how the most voracious pirates also spend more money on entertainment.

It does not necessarily follow that if you disagreed with the media industry, you would not consume their products.

That's in a class of arguments that include statements like "If you disagreed with the use of your tax money, you would not pay taxes." Or "If you disagreed with the agricultural industry, you would not consume produce."

Yes it should. Why would you support something you don't agree with? Taxes aren't a normal good because we don't get to choose whether to consume. A segment of Vegetarians do not consume meat because they disagree with the meat industry. People boycott things all the time.

Have you seen studies on the effectiveness of boycotts? The only time they work is when they create enough bad publicity (ie media) and there are alternatives that people can turn to.

There are people who boycott elections because they dislike the candidates being offered. Do we see the political system change when 50% of people stop voting? No, all that happens is that the candidates focus on the people who do vote.

In a market, the biggest problem to a company is competition that will take market share and mind share. A customer that buy a competing product gives money to the competitor who then can invest that money into further competing products. A customer who boycott that market won't benefit you, but it also don't benefit the competition, so the status quo is maintained.

If we want an additional point of view, we can look into monopolies and what happens there when the single controlling entity has unreasonable prices and is strongly negatively perceived, like The Telephone Company of old. People could of course boycott them, but why would they care. So long enough people will pay what ever is demanded, then profits are earned and life will go on. When customers has no alternatives, except for stay outside of current culture and social norms, then they will pay what is demanded. People understood this already around the time of the founding of the United states and viewed monopolies as extremely dangerous and only valid for a very short and limited time, and exclusively for newly created works. That system turned into a 95+ years that we have today, and the consequences are that people no longer respect that deal that was copyright. The moral high ground of the copyright holder was lost a long time ago, and the moral thing to do is to simply deny the legitimacy of the corrupt law.

If you do not support the meat industry, you might simply refuse to buy meat, without refusing to eat it.

You could still eat extra meat discarded by others, stolen meat, or free promotional steaks being given away as part of an advertising campaign.

Amazon is taking my money for newer films. Bizarre that nflx hasn't followed suit. Price points are 4.99-6.99 for (ha) HD and a dollar less for SD.

And if I can rant for a bit, why is there no amazon channel on Apple TV?!

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