HBOhas informed Netflix that they will no longer be selling their DVDs and Blu-rays to the disc rental service directly, starting this week. While unlikely to do much to Netflix’s bottom line, since there are a multitude of resellers out there that can hook Netflix up for not that much more money, this is being seen by many as a shot across Netflix’s bow in the love-hate war the two services seem to have
Netflix wants HBO content on streaming, badly, something HBO has steadfastly refused to provide without a heck of a lot of cash (rumored to be as much as $10/customer) going directly to HBO. Last month, Reed Hastings compared the two services, citing HBO GO streaming and Netflix’s move to produce their own original series as examples of how the two companies are moving closer together, and this move could be a tweak of Netflix’s nose in retaliation.
To me, I think two things are inevitable: 1) that HBO content will appear on Netflix in some form or another, and 2) that Netflix will be introducing tiered streaming plans as some point in the next few years as a way to both address the desire of content owners for more money, and to be able to offer more new releases online after their 30 day window expires. It’s just a question of how much blood Netflix is going to shed between now and then to make it happen.