Netflix on Xbox 360 No Longer Streaming Sony Columbia Pictures Films
Talk about a case of bad timing. On the eve of the big launch for the New Xbox Experience — which, remember, marks “a new dawn in home entertainment” — we’ve learned that Netflix streaming won’t have quite as many films available as we had been hoping. Joystiq learned earlier this evening that a number of films — including both Ghostbusters and Bad Boys — are now unavailable to be streamed to the Xbox 360. The common link between the suddenly unavailable flicks is that they are all from Columbia Pictures, which is owned by Sony Pictures Entertainment. The films haven’t disappeared from Netflix altogether; they are still available to be played on PCs and on TVs through other devices, making this seem like a petty move on Sony’s part to try and take the wind out of Microsoft’s sails.
As it turns out, it seems like this is simply a matter of licensing. Given that Sony BMG music is available through the Zune Marketplace and other Sony Pictures Entertainment movies are still available for streaming through Netflix to the 360, this might not be the proverbial middle finger that some assume it is.
MTV Multiplayer contacted Netflix and received a reply from their VP of corporate communications, Steve Swasey. He confirmed that these movies “are still available to be watched on subscribers’ computers and on TVs via other partner devices, and we hope they?ll be licensed for Xbox 360 shortly.” While he wouldn’t comment on whether the timing is pure coincidence or if Sony put in a request to put this in motion, but he did say:
As watching instantly becomes a more prominent part of the Netflix service, our goal is to have all of our streaming content licensed for all of our partner devices. We’re doing well in this area, but it will take some time before we fully achieve that goal. Today, titles regularly come in and out of license and there is a natural ebb and flow to what we have on license at any given point in time.
We contacted Microsoft to see what their take was on the situation and, as you’d expect, they declined to provide any comment, saying that it wasn’t their comment to make.
What this all seems to comes down to are the intricacies of the licensing process to distribute streamable video.
What would be interesting to find out is what take those involved in the affected movies have on the situation. If this really is a simple petty quarrel between Sony and Microsoft, you can bet the cast and crews would be none too pleased. Should it really be a licensing problem, it’s nothing short of one hell of a big coincidence. Without any proof, we can’t go around pointing any fingers just yet. But if Sony happens to release PlayStation Home to the masses tomorrow, we might just have our answer.