On 30 August, the network that brought Transformers and The Hunger Games to Netflix announced that it was leaving the video streaming service and striking up a deal with rival Hulu. This marks the end of a five-year long partnership between Netflix and the EPIX network.
EPIX, a joint venture of Paramount Pictures, Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer, and Lions Gate Entertainment, has brought thousands of hits to Netflix since it signed a distribution deal with the company in 2010. In fact, of all the top ten box-office hits released in the last three years, the only two you can find on Netflix (Transformers and The Hunger Games) are EPIX titles .
The network also contributed lesser hits, like World War Z, Wolf of Wall Street, Robocop, Selma, and the Mission Impossible series, to the streaming service’s selection. You can expect to see these titles removed from the Netflix library at the end of September so, as Netflix recently advised its subscribers, watch them now.
In an explanation posted on Netflix’s US & Canada Blog on 30 August (the same day EPIX announced its new partnership), Netflix said it had decided not to renew its contract with EPIX in order to focus on obtaining exclusive rights and original content from other studios. Read: “I broke up with him.”
In the post, Netflix’s Chief Content Officer Ted Sarandos detailed frustration with the 90-day waiting period between theater release and Netflix release of EPIX titles. During those 90 days, movies would make the rounds in theaters and on the network’s pay TV. This meant EPIX, not its online distribution partners, profited from the excitement around its new releases.
Netflix may also be tasting sour grapes over the loss of its exclusive distribution deal with EPIX back in 2012. In that year, EPIX brought Amazon Instant Video on board as a second online distribution partner. Since then, EPIX has been releasing the same movies, on the same schedule, to both streaming services. With its movies widely available elsewhere, EPIX no longer gives Netflix the edge it did back in 2010.
While (despite Sarandos explanation) it is unclear exactly who initiated the break-up, ditching EPIX marks a shift in the Netflix consciousness away from acquiring content rights and towards distributing content in its own right. The success of Netflix originals like House of Cards and Orange Is the New Black indicate the streaming service’s new strategy might pay off in a way negotiating digital sales with other networks no longer does.
As for Hulu, they have to gain what Netflix has lost. Whether that’s a lot or a little is up for debate. One thing’s for sure: when EPIX content disappears from the Netflix library at the end of this month, subscribers will be looking for their favorite blockbusters on other streaming services.
By simultaneously announcing the break-up with Netflix and the new partnership with Hulu, EPIX actually got in the last word by generating publicity for both EPIX and Hulu. The first name on
Netflix subscribers’ minds when they’re looking for EPIX come October? Hulu.