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Netflix’s (s NFLX) access to streaming video content from Disney (s DIS) and might be limited come 2012, unless Starz can negotiate a deal that will keep the studio’s new release titles online, according to Bloomberg. That would comes as a huge blow to Netflix, which depends on Starz for the limited first-run video titles that are available through its streaming VOD service.
According to Bloomberg, Disney wants more for rights to its films streamed online as part of what it considers to be a premium channel. The negotiations are also happening as Disney seeks to build its own streaming service where it might sell subscriptions direct to consumers.
Up until this point, about 1,000 titles out of the 17,000 available on Netflix’s “Watch Instantly” streaming VOD service — including much of the new release content that consumers want to watch — come through a deal that it struck with Starz in late 2008. Now it appears that, as a way to limit the amount of content that is available on Netflix, the studios are playing hardball with Starz. As a result, Netflix will face more pressure to negotiate streaming rights for its films directly with the Hollywood studios that distribute them.
Netflix recently had some success negotiating with Warner Bros. recently to add more titles to its streaming service, while giving up a 28-day window for DVD-by-mail rentals of new releases. But while a Netflix representative says that deal will increase the amount of Warner Bros. content available on the service by three times, that deal doesn’t include new releases to be streamed — just catalog content.