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.