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Windows Are Starting to Fit

4 Jun, 2012 By: Stephanie Prange

Once-high-flying Netflix, which has seen a precipitous drop in its stock price, seems to be coming down to Earth, looking for windows that fit the scheme of both the studios and their partners in home distribution.

Speaking May 30 to the Nomura U.S. Media, Cable & Telecom Summit in New York, chief content officer Ted Sarandos said to secure long-term working relationships with studios, he is embracing ongoing 28-day delays on new releases with some studios and a 56-day delay with Warner (see story, cover).

“I believe that is good for the overall ecosystem,” Sarandos said, adding that consumers who want new releases most likely aren’t Netflix subscribers. “This way we stay out of the path of the first 28 days of [higher-margin] VOD transactions or DVD sales. And that is a good thing because it supports the overall creation of content.”

Thank goodness someone outside of the realm of content creators and owners has acknowledged that windows help finance content — in short, that content is worth paying a premium for in the new-release window.

I particularly like Sarandos’ mention of an “overall ecosystem” that underlies the creation of content. It’s a hard concept to explain to many consumers who want to get the latest movies for a minimal price (or in some cases at no cost via piracy). It’s consumer dollars that finance big-budget actioners, such as The Avengers, as well as high-concept, Oscar-lauded projects, such as The Artist.

Perhaps now that some of the shine has worn off of Internet darlings (including Facebook), studios and companies that want to distribute their content online can come to an agreement that both values content and offers digital access to consumers — at a price that continues to support great movies and television shows.

Just as Facebook’s Mark Zuckerberg and Netflix’s Reed Hastings should be paid for their innovative and creative ideas (and they have been, handsomely), so should those who create and distribute movies and television shows that consumers want to see. It’s only fair.

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