Reed Hastings, Netflix Co-founder and CEO has little patience. He has an ego. He’s ultra-competitive.
And, as we were abruptly reminded February 5, the man has plenty of money.
The streaming service magically seized the moment, by reaching an agreement with multi-media conglomerate Flavor Unit Entertainment (headed by Queen Latifah and Shakim Compere) on a multiyear licensing deal that will give Netflix a first opportunity to stream movies from the Flavor Unit collection after they are released in theaters.
Netflix has been on a content-buying binge in recent years, singing up studio libraries as well as new releases. The service also has launched an aggressive push into original series, with its first home-grown effort, House of Cards, debuting on Feb.1 to strong reviews.
In the first-look deal, Netflix will have its pick of movies that will debut on the world’s leading Internet television subscription service shortly after their theatrical release from the company that produced box office hits like “Bringing Down the House” and “Beauty Shop”. Beginning in Spring 2013, Netflix members can exclusively enjoy Flavor Unit titles including the thriller, “House of Bodies”, starring Terrence Howard and Peter Fonda and “Percentage” starring Ving Rhames, Cam’ron and Macy Gray.
If production companies can spend a trillion dollars and get the entire big and small screen market to fawn all over them, the streaming giant can spend a billion bucks and steal their thunder.
Certainly, a rival like Hulu were nauseated and quite peeved. They were willing to give the entertainment company a licensing deal for a fraction of what was offered from Netflix. Maybe they would have given them a content production deal if pushed.
It’s a turning-of-the-tide like deal for the entertainment company, perhaps appropriate considering the way the media industry is changing. The premium subscription giants like HBO (Time Warner), Showtime Networks (CBS Corporation), and possibly the Sundance Channel (AMC Networks/Cablevision) were favorites to win this deal, as they usually do with theatrical releases. That’s why your cable bill is in the hundreds while flooded with the 40+ channels devoted alone to HBO, Showtime, The Movie Channel, Cinemax, and Starz, right? The fact that a credible company such as Flavor Unit has sidestepped this longtime industry standard for better penetration into homes and mobile devices says everything there is to say about the changing digital-focused times.