Adding WB Movies to Your Netflix Queue Now Takes an Extra Four Weeks

Illustration for article titled Adding WB Movies to Your Netflix Queue Now Takes an Extra Four Weeks

This is some bullsh*t. Warner Brothers and Netflx—as well as Redbox and Blockbuster—have reached a new licensing agreement that forces DVD subscribers to wait a full 56 days after titles hit store shelves to watch WB movies.

The worst part is that the titles will still show up in the Netflix catalog, you simply won't be able to add them to your queue for the added 28 days. It'll just sit there, mocking you. [LA Times via The Verge]

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Just to preface, I work in the film industry, so this issue is close to heart. The problem with Netflix is that studios like Warner don't think they make enough money off of the streaming fees to warrant scalping sales of the physical media. The waiting periods give them the time to aggresively market the film to more lucrative sales models — DVDs, PPV, etc. Most people don't realize that MOST films do not turn a profit in theatrical release. As budgets drastically rose in the 80s and 90s, the entire business model shifted to be geared towards home market sales. The general rule used to be that a film had to rake in double it's budget theatrically to turn a profit, then everything after was pure gold. Nowadays, each studio releases around 15 films per year, and about an average of 30% of those are profitable theatrically. The rest rely on home market sales.

Now with the rise of piracy and the decline of "owning" physical media, everything is in turmoil and studios don't know how to adapt. The problem is that Netflix has conditioned the consumer to instant and unlimited renting of media, which works fine for some of the lower margined products — all of the lower budget films and older, classic films you find available on Netflix. But the studios aren't making enough money off Netflix streaming to make their premium films available immediately. They still want to maximize the return for that first 28 days of sales. I think this is definitely part of the reason we saw Netflix attempt to clumsily hike subscription prices by 60% last year. They have to be able to offer the studios a better deal in order to provide what their customers desire.