Fox, Universal new releases delayed 28 days on Netflix


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Netflix customers who want to see ‘Avatar’ or ‘It’s Complicated’ on DVD will have to wait for more than just their mailman.

20th Century Fox and Universal Pictures have signed new distribution deals with the DVD-by-mail service that include a 28-day delay on new releases.


The agreements are similar to one signed by Warner Bros. in January.

As with that agreement, the Fox and Universal deals give Netflix more favorable economic terms on new releases in exchange for the delay. The company is using the savings to acquire more movies from the two studios for its Internet streaming service, which it has said is crucial to the future of the company as more consumers switch from DVDs to digital distribution.

Fox will also provide some of its television shows to Netflix for Internet streaming for the first time.

Fox, Universal and Warner Bros. have taken the lead in publicly lambasting DVD kiosk company Redbox, arguing that low-cost new-release rentals undercut the home entertainment business. Fox and Universal are still embroiled in a legal battle with Redbox, while Warner Bros. signed a deal with the company last month that also included a 28-day delay for new releases.

Other studios are expected to follow the lead of these three and sign similar deals with Netflix and Redbox in the future. That will set up a situation in which consumers can only rent DVDs the day they go on sale from physical retailers such as Blockbuster, which recently signed deals with Warner Bros., Fox and Sony Pictures that guarantee it can offer new releases at launch.

The first new movies that will be covered by the new Netflix deals are the most popular ones released by Fox and Universal in theaters around the 2009 holiday season: ‘Avatar,’ and ‘It’s Complicated,’ which will go on sale April 22 and 27, respectively.

-- Ben Fritz