Click to Skip Ad
Closing in...

Netflix finally fixed its only real disadvantage in the streaming wars

Updated Apr 26th, 2021 9:20AM EDT
Netflix Movies
Image: Roland Neveu/Netflix

If you buy through a BGR link, we may earn an affiliate commission, helping support our expert product labs.

Just a few years ago, Netflix was the undisputed king of streaming with no legitimate competition to speak of. Fast forward to 2021 and the streaming landscape is markedly different and much more competitive. While Netflix is still a streaming juggernaut, it now faces increased competition on several fronts. Aside from stalwarts like Hulu and Amazon Prime, Netflix these days also has to contend with rival and increasingly popular services like Disney+ and HBO Max.

It’s no secret that Netflix’s streaming strategy has long been to focus on original content, especially now that the licensing deals it had for popular shows like Friends and The Office have expired. And as Netflix Chief Content Officer Ted Sarandos famously said a few years ago, Netflix’s goal “is to become HBO faster than HBO can become us.”

In light of the above, one of Netflix’s glaring shortcomings, especially with respect to HBO, has been a relatively paltry selection of top-tier movie titles. Sure, Netflix has thousands of movies, but a large percentage of them aren’t even worth paying attention to. Not surprisingly, Netflix’s movie selection as a whole has decreased significantly in recent years as the company devoted billions of dollars towards developing original content.

Famously, Netflix a few years ago decided not to renew a licensing deal with Epix, and, in the process, the streaming giant lost thousands of movies, including highly-acclaimed and popular titles like The Wolf of Wall Street and The Hunger Games: Catching Fire.

Suffice it to say, if you’re an unabashed movie aficionado, there’s a good chance you’ll find a better selection of movies on streaming services outside of Netflix.

To address this shortcoming, Netflix recently inked a deal to shore up the aforementioned hole in its selection of movies. Earlier this month, Netflix and Sony announced a new movie deal whereby Netflix will have exclusive streaming rights to all of Sony’s theatrical releases starting in 2022. Additionally, Netflix will be able to license older movies from Sony’s vast library of hit titles.

“Sony Pictures is a great partner and we are thrilled to expand our relationship through this forward-thinking agreement,” Scott Stuber of Netflix said of the deal. “This not only allows us to bring their impressive slate of beloved film franchises and new IP to Netflix in the U.S., but it also establishes a new source of first-run films for Netflix movie lovers worldwide.”

While specific financial details were not disclosed, it’s believed that the deal is costing Netflix hundreds of millions of dollars over the course of a few years.

Incidentally, Netflix in recent months has shown more of an interest in A-list movies than it has in years. This past March, for example, Netflix shelled out a whopping $450 million for the rights to Knives Out 2 and Knives Out 3.

On a related note, shares of Netflix plunged more than 40 points on Wednesday in the wake of an earnings report that saw a slowdown in subscriber growth. During the first three months of 2021, Netflix attracted 3.98 million new subscribers, an impressive figure to be sure, but still markedly lower than the 4.8 million figure analysts on Wall Street were anticipating.

Yoni Heisler Contributing Writer

Yoni Heisler has been writing about Apple and the tech industry at large with over 15 years of experience. A life long expert Mac user and Apple expert, his writing has appeared in Edible Apple, Network World, MacLife, Macworld UK, and TUAW.

When not analyzing the latest happenings with Apple, Yoni enjoys catching Improv shows in Chicago, playing soccer, and cultivating new TV show addictions.