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More on Netflix, Criterion and Hulu

Today we, along with seemingly everyone else in the film blogosphere, announced Criterion’s exclusive deal with Hulu, which will see some 800 Criterion titles stream to viewers on the Hulu Plus service. And, like everyone else, we had to add a small update when we realized that Hulu’s gain is Netflix’s loss. The Criterion titles we Netflix subscribers are used to watching (just last week, for example, I saw Agnes Varda’s Cleo from Five to Seven) will soon be leaving the service.

Over at Hulu, Criterion President Peter Becker launches a blog with this declaration of love for the label’s new streaming home:

And finally, why Hulu? In short, because they get it. As their regular viewers know, the Hulu user experience is exactly what it should be: simple, elegant, and focused on the content. Hulu has built their brand on letting the shows and movies take center stage. Nobody does it better, and we’re honored that they see Criterion as a good match for their audience. We’re going to do all we can to make the experience of Criterion on Hulu Plus an exciting adventure for all of us, so please check it out and let us know what you think.

I’m a big fan of Netflix, so much so that I bought a small bit of its stock a couple of years ago. But convinced that its growth is due to plateau and then fall once its current content deals expire and the studios move more aggressively into their own streaming partnerships, I dumped it. My timing was obviously off as the stock jumped another 60 points or so after I sold it, but I had to look at today’s announcement as a harbinger of things to come. In fact, that’s the substance of David Poland’s post, “Hulu Pays for High Loyalty Content that Mainstream-Chasing Netflix Can’t Afford.” An excerpt:

There will come a tipping point studios and library owners see the potential for more profit in making their product available directly and not through Netflix, which cannot afford to keep expanding their slice of the market or to pay the kind of rates it is now paying for a slice of the market. And keep in mind, only starts streaming after DVDs are released and sometimes 28 days after that.

And when that day comes, if Hulu remains aggressive or other players make serious entries into the business, Netflix will be left with either a very small slice of the market or be forced to sell itself – essentially, if not literally – to one or two studios to front what will essentially be an in-house post-theatrical streaming business. That’s when content like Criterion will be critical.

What a lot of people seem to forget about the internet is that it isn’t brand loyal….

Brand loyalty is the subject of Flavorwire’s post, titled, “Should Cinephiles Dump Netflix for Hulu?” The post compares the two, and, despite the Criterion move, isn’t ready to give up on the red envelopes just yet:

For now, while Hulu Plus is still building its streaming library and uploading its copious Criterion content, Netflix is still the way to go for film fans — but adding Hulu as a second option is looking like a progressively smarter choice. Either way it goes, there’s still a good long while before everything we want to see is available at the click of a button. So we’ll bide our time watching our old VHS tapes. Anybody up for a viewing of Mr. T’s Be Somebody or Be Somebody’s Fool? Alyssa Milano’s Teen Steam? Anybody?

For Screened, there’s no question that Hulu + Criterion is worth $8: “Eight bucks a month for access to what is almost certainly the world’s premiere collection of fine films? Well, I guess you have yourself a subscriber, Mr. Hulu.”

I checked the financial blogs and there’s not much about Netflix and the Criterion deal. (There was bigger news today for NFLX: the probable threat from Apple, whose new subscription rules would seem to require the company to allow iOS users to subscribe through their apps — and allow Apple to collect 30% of that small $8 monthly fee.)

My Netflix streaming viewing heavily weights towards Criterion and IFC titles. I’ll be sticking with the service for now… but if IFC were to go…

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