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Netflix Prevents Another “Streamgate”

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Netflix Instantwatcher

To prevent another freakout on the internet over expiring Netflix Instant titles, Netflix will no longer provide the expiration dates of its titles as part of its public API.

A little information can be a dangerous thing, especially when people don’t know what the information they get actually means. InstantWatcher.com has mined the Netflix API for years, letting people know how long they have to watch that title that’s been sitting in their queue. However, with the expiration of its exclusive  EPIX deal, combined with a large block of titles from Warner Brothers all going at the same time, a massive internet freakout ensued recently, tied to the usual conspiracy theories about how The Man was only looking to milk them for more money. Warner Archive Instant issued a denial that the disappearing Warner titles had anything to do with its streaming service.

Hundreds of titles expire every month on Netflix. 20th Century Fox, for example, had a huge amount of material set to go away, including TV shows like Buffy, Angel, 24, and Prison Break. But either thanks to mistakes at InstantWatcher, or more likely a renewal of the contract, those shows are no longer on the chopping block, and still available as of this writing.

This kind of churn is just going to happen at any company that doesn’t own it own content. Digital sub-channel AntennaTV recently lost the rights to air Dragnet, Adam 12, and Leave it to Beaver when a competitor outbid for the content, which caused a major re-jiggering of AntennaTV’s schedule, but none of its viewers seems to be freaking out.

Very few of the titles on Netflix are “leverage worthy,” and that’s why you see the same selection of movies on so many different services. The real fight is for the first-run, or near-first-run cable rights for movies, which is what the EPIX deal was all about. Netflix has already started bidding on and winning these kinds of rights, like snatching the Disney package from former licensor Starz. Just remember, if Netflix doesn’t own it, chances are it’ll go away someday. The nature of non-ownership is fleeting, so if there’s a movie you really want to watch in your instant queue, watch it while you have the chance.

Via: [Netflix Blog]

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