Netflix’s streaming-only strategy just added a big new player to its roster. The online movie rental giant announced Monday that it has signed a multi-year agreement with Miramax to stream the studio’s titles digitally—which marks a first for both Miramax and Netflix. When the agreement finalizes in June, it will be the first time that Netflix has streamed Miramax films—and this will be the first time that Miramax has made its films available via a digital subscription service. The financial terms of the deal were not disclosed.
Coming in June, Netflix subscribers will be able to instantly watch hundreds of Miramax titles, including some of the most over-hyped titles ever released, such as “Kill Bill,” “Shakespeare in Love,” “Bad Santa,” “Cold Mountain,” “Clerks,” “Chasing Amy,” and “Scream,” along with some classic titles like “Pulp Fiction,” “Fargo,” “The Piano,” and “Spy Kids.”
Many were surprised back in February when Miramax made its titles available digitally through iTunes, Amazon’s Video on Demand, and BestBuy’s CinemaNow, but not Netflix. The studio announced that it would be partnering with Lionsgate to distribute 550 titles via DVD and Blu-Ray sales, as well as online sales and rentals, but the deal did not include licensing rights for cable or online subscription services—such as Netflix.
While Miramax held out, in April of 2010, Netflix gained the rights to stream titles from Fox and Universal—with the caveat that titles would only become available for digital streaming via Netflix a full 28 days after release on DVD so that the studios can reap as much as possible from DVD sales before the titles are made available online.
And in November, Netflix gave studios another incentive to make their titles available for digital streaming when it changed its pricing plan to encourage its streaming-only plan (with no intention to make a mailed DVD-only plan). The pricing switch priced the streaming-only plan at $7.99, a full $2 less than what it would cost to get unlimited streaming plus one DVD out at a time. The announcement came one week after Hulu announced that it would be shaving $2 off its $9.99 premium Hulu Plus plan.
“From day one, we've been very clear about the importance of digital and our desire to respond to the significant pent-up demand for our films -- delivering to consumers whenever and wherever they want," said Miramax CEO Mike Lang in a statement. "This agreement is an important first step in our digital strategy. Netflix has always been a trailblazer, with a tremendous track record of innovation and quality customer service. We're thrilled to now be in business with them as we build and revitalize the proud Miramax brand."