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Netflix Sees Starz

10/02/2008 8:00 PM Eastern

Netflix inked a three-year agreement with Starz Entertainment to offer about 2,500 additional movies — bundled into Netflix's unlimited monthly subscription plans — through the Starz Play broadband service.

Covered in the deal are films from Walt Disney Co. and Sony Pictures Entertainment, such as Spider-Man 3, Ratatouille and No Country for Old Men. That content will augment Netflix's Internet video-on-demand service, which currently provides 12,000 movies and TV episodes. In addition, Netflix subs will be able to watch a live feed of the Starz TV network on their PCs.

Financial terms of the deal weren't disclosed.

Netflix already offers virtually all of the content available on Starz Play through its core DVD-by-mail service, which offers a selection of more than 100,000 titles.

“We're not giving them any major new titles,” Starz president and chief operating officer Bill Myers said in an interview. “What we're doing for their customers is giving them a way to access those titles over the Internet.”

The deal is Starz's second for the broadband movie service; Verizon Communications offers the Starz Play online movie service to its 8.5 million broadband customers for $5.99 per month.

In August, Starz scrapped Vongo, its consumer-facing Internet movie service, in favor of focusing on landing distribution deals with cable, telco and Web providers.

Initially, Starz will offer about 1,000 titles through Netflix, accessible by clicking on the “Watch Instantly” tab on the home page. The companies expect to add more titles in the coming weeks. Netflix will also offer a Starz Play-only subscription for $7.99 a month.

In a promotion tied to Starz original series Crash, starting Oct. 1, Netflix subscribers can access a preview of the first full episode of the show in advance of its Oct. 17 linear-TV premiere on Starz.

Netflix offers subscribers a way to access the streaming service from their TVs, using the $99 Netflix Player by Roku, and other Netflix-enabled devices are in the pipeline, such as a Blu-ray DVD player from LG Electronics.

But Myers said the intent with Starz Play is to offer a broadband viewing experience that doesn't compete with the high-definition and video-on-demand offerings for traditional affiliates.

“The services that we provide cable, satellite and telco are much more robust than Starz Play,” he said. “It's not a replacement product by any means. It allows us to get to customers who may not get Starz content in other formats.”

 

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