Netflix reacts to May 1 purge of online content
Netflix was quick to respond today to the exodus of streamed content resulting from expired licensing deals with MGM, Warner Bros., and Universal that cost the online service access to several James Bond movies, Adaptation, Cruel Intentions, and Reality Bites, among hundreds of others. Yesterday, Netflix sought to calm subscribers mourning the loss of Adam Sandler’s Big Daddy, explaining that “this ebb and flow happens all the time” and promising users 500 new titles today, including Mission: Impossible 2. Today, they were quick to trumpet some of the new offerings.
Most of the today’s departed content was old Warner Bros. films, some of which will eventually gravitate to Warner Archive Instant — though a Warner Bros. spokesperson told Slate that its new streaming service was not the reason for the removal of its library. Ultimately, Netflix will bid farewell to nearly 1,800 movies this month, a relative minute fraction of its overall offerings but a significant departure if it doesn’t come to a new agreement with Viacom, which provides the service with popular episodes from shows on MTV, Comedy Central, and Nickelodeon. Last week, Netflix’s CEO Reed Hastings signaled to investors his intention to let the current deal expire. In a morning conference call with analysts today, Viacom chief Phillipe Dauman said that his company was still in negotiations with several parties, including Netflix.
Netflix can afford to flex its muscles a little, after House of Cards boosted subscriptions by 2 million in the first quarter 2013 and Hemlock Grove continued its winning streak since the horror show’s release on April 19. (It’s currently the site’s top TV show.) Some users might lament the loss of films like Deep Impact from their queue, but the online service is poised to unleash its exclusive season of Arrested Development on May 26, a lure that they surely predict will win back all of its goodwill — and then some.