Starz Ditches Netflix
Starz has decided not to renew its contract with Netflix. Starz and Netflix signed a deal back in 2008 when Netflix’s Watch Instantly streaming service was still in its infancy. Starz was the first big name to make a major commitment to Netflix and was widely seen as a validation that Netflix had a shot at getting content that was not dredged up from the Mystery Science Theater 3000 vaults. Starz also got some premium positioning on the Netflix website. Indeed, when the Criterion Collection jumped ship for Hulu, there were a lot of grumblings that the primary motivation was that Netflix would not give Criterion the kind of placement that Starz enjoyed.
Unfortunately, it sounds like Starz has decided that Netflix can’t afford them anymore. When Starz leaves Netflix they will be taking along their original programming as well movies from Sony and Disney, which Starz controls the cable distribution rights to. The current Starz deal lasts until February 2012, but my guess would be that we will see little or no new content come from Starz between now and then. Sony movies abruptly disappeared from Netflix a few months ago and Starz also recently made an announcement that they were placing a 90 day window on their content before allowing Netflix to start streaming it.
The question remains: where does Starz go from here? My money is on an HBO Go-style service, but I wouldn’t rule out a sudden Amazon announcement in the near future.
Now, Netflix has some new problems on its hands. Satellite TV channel Starz released a statement that said it would not renew its distribution deal with Netflix when it expires next February, which means Netflix will lose Disney and Sony-related programming from its library.