Netflix Subscribers Will Have to Wait for Avatar


Netflix (s NFLX) subscribers, we have good news and bad news. First, the good news: The company has added a ton of new streaming content, including all prior seasons of TV shows such as 24 and Bones, as well as movies including Aliens, Being John Malkovich and The Pianist. And now the bad news: You’ll have to wait an extra month before you’ll be able to get Avatar through Netflix’s DVD-by-mail service.

The bad news is the result of the company’s latest round of studio agreements, which will extend 28-day rental windows on new releases from 20th Century Fox (s NWS) and Universal Studios (s GE). But in exchange, Netflix will get more content to add to the 17,000-plus video titles already available through its Watch Instantly service.

The first title to be affected is 20th Century Fox’s Avatar, which is sure to be disappointing to subscribers who were desperately waiting to add the Hollywood blockbuster to their DVD queues. The film won’t be available from Netflix for four weeks after it goes on sale April 22. The first title from Universal to be affected by the 28-day window is It’s Complicated, which goes on sale April 27.

But for Netflix users that have embraced the company’s Watch Instantly streaming service, the new agreements add to the ever-growing list of content that they can now watch on their PCs or any number of consumer electronic devices, including the new Apple (s aapl) iPad. From Fox, Netflix has added a large number of TV episodes, including all prior seasons of shows like Lie to Me, Bones, 24 and King of the Hill, as well as full seasons of Prison Break, Arrested Development and Buffy the Vampire Slayer. Fox will also provide hit movies like Aliens, The Thin Red Line, Romancing the Stone and Patton. From Universal, Netflix has added streaming titles such as Gosford Park, Billy Elliott, The Pianist, Being John Malkovich and Do the Right Thing.

The announcement with Fox and Universal follow a similar deal that Netflix struck with Warner Bros. (s TWX) in January, in which it agreed to a four-week window in exchange for more streaming content.

While Netflix is expanding the number of studios it grants 28-day new release windows to, Blockbuster (s BBI) is working to solidify its hold on new release titles. Today’s announcement comes just a few days after Blockbuster secured deals with 20th Century Fox and Sony Pictures Entertainment (s SNE) to ensure it can rent new releases on the same day and date that they go on sale. That means that Blockbuster will have Avatar for a full four weeks before Netflix or kiosk rental firm Redbox (s CSTR) make it available. Blockbuster also has a deal with Warner Bros. guaranteeing that it can rent that studio’s new releases through its stores or its DVD-by-mail service.

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