I read yesterday that Netflix made a deal with Warner Brothers to delay DVD releases in echange for having access to more of Warner's library for their Netflix Watch Instantly feature.
Interestingly, people seem put off by this, which, as a long-time Netflix subscriber and a Netflix Watch Instantly early adopter has me a bit perplexed. Anyone who's ever used Netflix knows that they often won't get a specific movie when they expect it, and in fact end up altering their movie watch behavior accordingly. Watch Instantly, however, DOES allow people to, funnily enough, "watch instantly."
D bought me the first Roku box when it was first announced, which allows us to watch Netflix Watch Instantly titles (and now Amazon VOD titles as well) right on our TV, using a remote to navigate. In HD, even. The box keeps track of where you are in each title if you decide to stop watching and finish later, and even keeps track of which episode in a TV series you're on. Even without the 2-day time advantage the Watch Instantly service has over having a disc mailed to you, there's value added in keeping track of this stuff. Anyone who's ever had to figure out which episodes they haven't seen after a several month hiatus of watching a particular show can attest to this.
Netflix Watch Instantly is now available on Xbo and PS3, as well as a host of DVD players and Blu-ray players, televisions and other boxes you may already have in your home. Soon, it'll be available on the Wii that you have collecting dust, and there's a range of different Roku boxes that will hook you up inexpensively if you don't already have one of those other boxes in your home. Streaming is the future, and getting more titles available for people to stream is a great advantage for Netflix, helping ensure that they're not only in the game, but at the forefront of it.
So, it seems to me that Netflix is in a win/win situation; not only are their customers already used to delays of new releases, but adding more titles to Watch Instantly will help keep customers like us happier for longer. We use Netflix via Watch Instantly almost exclusively and haven't even received a disc in probably close to a year. I look forward to a sudden influx of new things to watch.
If a 30-day delay on Batman Begins Again DVDs means I can stream the rest of the Batman franchise, then I say delay it. If I really need to see a title within 30 days, there's always a Redbox machine nearby.
One of my favorite movies is Steve Oedekerk's High Strung. Chances are you haven't seen it, because it wasn't released theatrically, was only available as a rental, and the company that put out the VHS tape went out of business. You may occasionally run across a copy at ye olde video shoppe, but it's pretty unlikely since most rental copies have since been stolen.
Over 10 years ago Steve Oedekerk's official website reported that they had finished the video mix for a DVD release, and all that needed done was a 5.1 audio mix and menus and extras and whatnot. About 3 years ago I ran across a VHS copy, digitized it, and made a torrent of it so that more people could have a chance to see this gem of a film -- and maybe increase demand for the "any time now" DVD release in the process.
It's been a couple years since I've checked for an update on the DVD release, but yesterday I came across a copy online purporting to be a "DVD rip." So I downloaded it. Turns out that it is a significantly higher-res copy than the one I put up, and even wide-screen to boot, but still pretty obviously VHS-sourced. It smelled fishy, so I pulled out my copy and compared them side by side.
So, as you can see, someone simply cropped and stretched the full-screen VHS copy and pretended as if it were a 1.78:1 wide-screen-sourced copy. Since it is cropped down, it means that there's even LESS of the film visible, and since it is scaled it means everyone has put on a good 10 pounds. It also means that there is still no DVD.