September 1, 2015
Netflix has let its deal with pay-TV channel Epix lapse, as it moves away from non-exclusive content to more exclusive content and original programming. Into that void, the smaller Hulu has inked a deal with Epix to stream its content beginning in October. Epix, owned by MGM, Lionsgate and Paramount Pictures, has the rights to numerous high profile films including “Hunger Games: Catching Fire” and “Transformer: Age of Extinction.” Epix also signed a deal in 2012 with Amazon Prime Instant Video.
The Wall Street Journal notes that Epix, which has only 14 million subscribers, is trying to distribute its content to as many streaming video platforms as possible, which runs contrary to Netflix’s goal of exclusivity.
WSJ quotes the blog post of Netflix chief executive Ted Sarandos: “While many of these movies are popular, they are also widely available on cable and other subscription platforms at the same time as they are on Netflix. Through our original films and some innovative licensing arrangements with the movie studios, we are aiming to build a better movie experience for you.”
Netflix’s selectiveness is a boon for Hulu, a company jointly owned by 21st Century Fox, Comcast NBCUniversal and Disney, which is seeking to expand its content spending and catch up to Netflix’s more dominant numbers. According to RBC Capital Markets analyst David Bank, Hulu plans to double its spending on content to $1.5 billion.
Just as Netflix turned to original production in television, with “House of Cards” and “Orange is the New Black,” so the company will develop original movies, says Sarandos. Recently announced original films — both to debut in December — are the Adam Sandler comedy “Ridiculous Six” and Sofia Coppola-directed “A Very Murray Christmas,” starring Bill Murray.