As broadcaster licensing squeezes Netflix ever tighter, you’ve probably noticed that the streaming company continues to lose higher-end, popular television and film content at an annoying rate. The latest such shift occurred when Netflix last week refused to extend its licensing agreement with Epix, resulting in Netflix customers losing access to mainstream films like Hunger Games: Catching Fire, World War Z and The Wolf of Wall Street. Epix then proceeded to strike a deal with both Hulu and Amazon, who’ll now be carrying those titles instead.
Such deals are at the heart of Netflix’s permission culture dilemma, where the company is at the whims of broadcast licensing, often tied to a cable industry (Comcast/NBC) that intends to directly harm Netflix. These copyright gardens, built under the illusion of control, increasingly fracture content availability, confusing customers as they try to find a service that has most of the content they’re looking for. Unfortunately, in many instances these customers then wind up finding that piracy is easier than decoding and running this availability gauntlet, where shows appear and disappear daily as deals are struck or cancelled.
Netflix used to be the place to get the DVDs for almost any movie. Then the place for digital versions.
Now the studios (often owned by cable companies in direct competition with Netflix) are perfectly willing to let their content get carved up between a multitude of sites, with the customer unable to know where anything is.
We will see a multitude of places to find a show, all cut off, with no contact between them.
Apple may help here with he new Apple TV which has great search capabilities but this still serves the corporations, not the customers.
Apple would love to be abel to bundle this content, letting customers create ala carte networks. But again, the cable companies that own the content see this as a threat and are preventing it.
Image: gideon ansell
So we get streaming from 100 different places, all with their own prices and conditions. I do not expect this to last long. The content makers’ needs are to get their works seen by as many people as possible. Making this difficult, as the corporations are doing, only creates economic pressure to circumvent the problem.