Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Comcast unveils new streaming video rival just as Netflix announces deal with The Weinstein Co.

Streampix, Netflix, they rhyme, sort of. And there's a good reason for that, what with Comcast's newly announced $4.99 a month service directly competing with Netflix's (and Hulu's) $7.99 per month service.

The negative is that you have to subscribe to Comcast's TV service to get Xfinity Streampix, the service's full name. Those subscribing to Comcast's upper tier Xfinity bundles may see Streampix included for free.

Comcast says it's inked deals with a number of movie studios and distributors including NBC Universal (considering Comcast owns it, no surprise here), Disney - ABC Television Group, Sony Pictures, Warner Bros. Digital Distribution and Cookie Jar.

It's a busy and crowded market segment, though, with not just Netflix and Hulu as competitors to Streampix, but Amazon.com's Instant Videos service and Redbox / Verizon's joint venture that was announced earlier this month.

What's happening, though, is something similar to the war between HD-DVD and Blu-ray, way back when. Content is what will determine who wins this war, just as it did with Blu-ray and HD-DVD.

Netflix is always criticized over low amounts of streaming content. On Tuesday, the same day Comcast announced Streampix, though, Netflix announced a deal with The Weinstein Company for much of its usually critically-acclaimed content.

TWC will release “a diverse slate” of its titles exclusively to Netflix streaming, with the titles hitting Netflix within a year of their theatrical release. For example, 2012 Academy Award Nominee "The Artist" will be streamed on Netflix before its shown on any pay-per-view or premium cable networks.

This is the first deal the companies have inked together, and it could be a good sign for Netflix if it portends more such deals. Netflix can't afford to hesitate, though, as its rivals surely are looking for deals of their own like this.

Content is king, Netflix. Remember HD-DVD.

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