Bloodied By Warner, Redbox Also Damns New Releases To Piracy

Comment

As some of you know, I’ve been bitching up a storm about Netflix’s decision to give in to Warner Bros. demand that they not rent new release DVDs until after a 28-day window has expired. Today, Redbox, has announced they’ll do the exact same thing. Simply put, this is another blow to consumers and a big potential win for piracy.

Naturally, Warner is playing this up as a win for everybody. With this 28-day window, Warner now has the opportunity to try to sell more DVDs, while at the same time offering more video-on-demand options. Meanwhile Redbox ensures that it will be able to keep offering Warner content and be granted more access to it. In exchange, Redbox simply has to agree not to rent Warner movies until 28 days after they’re released — oh, and drop that pesky lawsuit again Warner for trying to prevent them access to their movies. Hugs all around, right? Wrong.

Make no mistake, Redbox did not want this deal. Their hand was forced by Warner. But really, what else were they going to do, just not offer Warner titles while their competitors did? From their perspective, a 28-day window is undoubtedly better than no window at all. But what this really is is another example of a movie studio shooting itself in the foot. Warner believes that these windows are going to allow them to sell more DVDs, long the bread-and-butter of the movie industry which is now in rapid decline. The thought is that people are no longer buying as many because it’s so easy to rent them. So if you make them harder to rent…

The problem with this is at the fundamental level. People aren’t buying fewer DVDs on a large scale because of rentals, they’re buying fewer ones because most DVDs aren’t simply worth owning. And consumers are finally waking up to that fact. Do I want to own Sherlock Holmes? No. Will I rent it? Yes.

The Netflix agreement with Redbox actually makes more sense since they’re all about getting more streaming titles from the studio. They want this because that’s the future of the business and from a business perspective, new releases make up only 30% of their rentals, with the other 70% coming from older catalog films, many of which they can now stream to customers. Of course, if other studios cut the same 28-day deal with Netflix, it’s going to decimate the top rental list. And while plenty are quick to say, so what? Make no mistake, this will lead to more piracy.

Further, while part of Netflix’s agreement with Warner was supposed to lead to better availability of these new releases after the 28-day window, the opposite appears to actually be happening. The first two movies that fell under this new rule, The Invention of Lying and Whiteout, were recently granted Netflix availability. So you can rent them right now, right? Nope. The Invention of Lying has a “Long wait” while Whiteout has a “Short wait.” It seems that there is some pent-up demand to rent these new releases that Netflix wasn’t expecting. Both movies, meanwhile, were immediately available to rent through iTunes a month ago, which didn’t cut this silly deal.

Here’s what Warner has to say:

Warner Bros. Home Entertainment Group and redbox today announced a new multi-year distribution agreement that will make Warner Bros. new release DVD and Blu-ray titles available to redbox customers after a 28-day window. The agreement also marks the end of the lawsuit that redbox filed against Warner Home Video in August 2009.  Below is a copy of the press release with additional details.

Here’s the release:

WARNER BROS. HOME ENTERTAINMENT AND REDBOX ANNOUNCE A MULTI-YEAR DISTRIBUTION AGREEMENT

Companies Agree to 28-Day Window for DVD and Blu-ray Titles

BURBANK, Calif. And OAKBROOK TERRACE, Ill, February 16, 2010 – Warner Bros. Home Entertainment Group and redbox today announced a new multi-year distribution agreement that will make Warner Bros. new release DVD and Blu-ray titles available to redbox customers after a 28-day window. The agreement also marks the end of the lawsuit that redbox filed against Warner Home Video in August 2009.

“We are very pleased to have had the opportunity to sit down with redbox and negotiate an arrangement that benefits both parties and allows us to continue making our films available to redbox customers,” said Kevin Tsujihara, president, Warner Bros. Home Entertainment Group. “The 28-day window enables us to get the most from the sales potential of our titles and maximize VOD usage.”

The new arrangement provides redbox with reduced product costs, sufficient quantities of product and optimal stock levels four weeks after street date as well as extends redbox’s access to Blu-ray titles, which redbox is currently testing in select markets. The agreement also provides Warner Bros. the opportunity to maximize the sales of new release titles as well as video on demand and other forms of digital distribution.

“This agreement enables redbox to fulfill our commitment to providing consumers affordable and convenient home entertainment,” said Mitch Lowe, president, redbox. “By agreeing to a delayed release date, redbox can now acquire Warner Home Video titles at a reduced product cost, preserving value for our consumers and increasing customer access to Warner titles at redbox locations nationwide.”

Warner Home Video and redbox will be implementing delayed availability during the month of March and will reach a four-week window by March 23 with the release of The Blind Side. The new agreement will run through January 31, 2012. Redbox has also agreed to destroy Warner Home Video content following its lifespan in kiosks.

“The 28-day window for redbox balances the economics of our relationship while continuing to offer great value to their customers,” said Ron Sanders, president, Warner Home Video. “This accord establishes a mutually beneficial relationship that will foster an ongoing and productive partnership.”

Warner Bros. is currently a leader in many home video categories including total video (DVD and Blu-ray combined), Theatrical Catalog video, TV on DVD, and Blu-ray and will ensure the DVD rental company access to sufficient quantities of Warner Home Video titles including The Time Traveler’s Wife, The Box, The Informant!, Where the Wild Things Are, The Blind Side, and Sherlock Holmes.

About Warner Bros. Home Entertainment Group
Warner Bros. Home Entertainment Group (WBHEG) brings together Warner Bros. Entertainment’s home video, digital distribution, interactive entertainment, technical operations and anti-piracy businesses in order to maximize current and next-generation distribution scenarios. An industry leader since its inception, WBHEG oversees the global distribution of content through packaged goods (Blu-ray Disc and DVD) and digital media in the form of electronic sell-through and video-on-demand via cable, satellite, online and mobile channels, and is a significant developer and publisher for console and online video game titles worldwide. WBHEG distributes its product through third party retail partners and licensees, as well as directly to consumers through WBShop.com.

About Redbox
Redbox Automated Retail, LLC, a wholly-owned subsidiary of Coinstar, Inc., offers new release DVD rentals through its network of conveniently located, self-service kiosks. Redbox has rented more than 500 million DVDs and is available at more than 20,200 locations nationwide, including select McDonald’s restaurants, leading grocery and convenience stores, and Walmart and Walgreens locations in select markets. For more information, visit www.redbox.com http://www.redbox.com.

[image: Warner Brothers – funny, yes]

More TechCrunch

After Apple loosened its App Store guidelines to permit game emulators, the retro game emulator Delta — an app 10 years in the making — hit the top of the…

Adobe comes after indie game emulator Delta for copying its logo

Meta is once again taking on its competitors by developing a feature that borrows concepts from others — in this case, BeReal and Snapchat. The company is developing a feature…

Meta’s latest experiment borrows from BeReal’s and Snapchat’s core ideas

Welcome to Startups Weekly! We’ve been drowning in AI news this week, with Google’s I/O setting the pace. And Elon Musk rages against the machine.

Startups Weekly: It’s the dawning of the age of AI — plus,  Musk is raging against the machine

IndieBio’s Bay Area incubator is about to debut its 15th cohort of biotech startups. We took special note of a few, which were making some major, bordering on ludicrous, claims…

IndieBio’s SF incubator lineup is making some wild biotech promises

YouTube TV has announced that its multiview feature for watching four streams at once is now available on Android phones and tablets. The Android launch comes two months after YouTube…

YouTube TV’s ‘multiview’ feature is now available on Android phones and tablets

Featured Article

Two Santa Cruz students uncover security bug that could let millions do their laundry for free

CSC ServiceWorks provides laundry machines to thousands of residential homes and universities, but the company ignored requests to fix a security bug.

16 hours ago
Two Santa Cruz students uncover security bug that could let millions do their laundry for free

OpenAI’s Superalignment team, responsible for developing ways to govern and steer “superintelligent” AI systems, was promised 20% of the company’s compute resources, according to a person from that team. But…

OpenAI created a team to control ‘superintelligent’ AI — then let it wither, source says

TechCrunch Disrupt 2024 is just around the corner, and the buzz is palpable. But what if we told you there’s a chance for you to not just attend, but also…

Harness the TechCrunch Effect: Host a Side Event at Disrupt 2024

Decks are all about telling a compelling story and Goodcarbon does a good job on that front. But there’s important information missing too.

Pitch Deck Teardown: Goodcarbon’s $5.5M seed deck

Slack is making it difficult for its customers if they want the company to stop using its data for model training.

Slack under attack over sneaky AI training policy

A Texas-based company that provides health insurance and benefit plans disclosed a data breach affecting almost 2.5 million people, some of whom had their Social Security number stolen. WebTPA said…

Healthcare company WebTPA discloses breach affecting 2.5 million people

Featured Article

Microsoft dodges UK antitrust scrutiny over its Mistral AI stake

Microsoft won’t be facing antitrust scrutiny in the U.K. over its recent investment into French AI startup Mistral AI.

18 hours ago
Microsoft dodges UK antitrust scrutiny over its Mistral AI stake

Ember has partnered with HSBC in the U.K. so that the bank’s business customers can access Ember’s services from their online accounts.

Embedded finance is still trendy as accounting automation startup Ember partners with HSBC UK

Kudos uses AI to figure out consumer spending habits so it can then provide more personalized financial advice, like maximizing rewards and utilizing credit effectively.

Kudos lands $10M for an AI smart wallet that picks the best credit card for purchases

The EU’s warning comes after Microsoft failed to respond to a legally binding request for information that focused on its generative AI tools.

EU warns Microsoft it could be fined billions over missing GenAI risk info

The prospects for troubled banking-as-a-service startup Synapse have gone from bad to worse this week after a United States Trustee filed an emergency motion on Wednesday.  The trustee is asking…

A US Trustee wants troubled fintech Synapse to be liquidated via Chapter 7 bankruptcy, cites ‘gross mismanagement’

U.K.-based Seraphim Space is spinning up its 13th accelerator program, with nine participating companies working on a range of tech from propulsion to in-space manufacturing and space situational awareness. The…

Seraphim’s latest space accelerator welcomes nine companies

OpenAI has reached a deal with Reddit to use the social news site’s data for training AI models. In a blog post on OpenAI’s press relations site, the company said…

OpenAI inks deal to train AI on Reddit data

X users will now be able to discover posts from new Communities that are trending directly from an Explore tab within the section.

X pushes more users to Communities

For Mark Zuckerberg’s 40th birthday, his wife got him a photoshoot. Zuckerberg gives the camera a sly smile as he sits amid a carefully crafted re-creation of his childhood bedroom.…

Mark Zuckerberg’s makeover: Midlife crisis or carefully crafted rebrand?

Strava announced a slew of features, including AI to weed out leaderboard cheats, a new ‘family’ subscription plan, dark mode and more.

Strava taps AI to weed out leaderboard cheats, unveils ‘family’ plan, dark mode and more

We all fall down sometimes. Astronauts are no exception. You need to be in peak physical condition for space travel, but bulky space suits and lower gravity levels can be…

Astronauts fall over. Robotic limbs can help them back up.

Microsoft will launch its custom Cobalt 100 chips to customers as a public preview at its Build conference next week, TechCrunch has learned. In an analyst briefing ahead of Build,…

Microsoft’s custom Cobalt chips will come to Azure next week

What a wild week for transportation news! It was a smorgasbord of news that seemed to touch every sector and theme in transportation.

Tesla keeps cutting jobs and the feds probe Waymo

Sony Music Group has sent letters to more than 700 tech companies and music streaming services to warn them not to use its music to train AI without explicit permission.…

Sony Music warns tech companies over ‘unauthorized’ use of its content to train AI

Winston Chi, Butter’s founder and CEO, told TechCrunch that “most parties, including our investors and us, are making money” from the exit.

GrubMarket buys Butter to give its food distribution tech an AI boost

The investor lawsuit is related to Bolt securing a $30 million personal loan to Ryan Breslow, which was later defaulted on.

Bolt founder Ryan Breslow wants to settle an investor lawsuit by returning $37 million worth of shares

Meta, the parent company of Facebook, launched an enterprise version of the prominent social network in 2015. It always seemed like a stretch for a company built on a consumer…

With the end of Workplace, it’s fair to wonder if Meta was ever serious about the enterprise

X, formerly Twitter, turned TweetDeck into X Pro and pushed it behind a paywall. But there is a new column-based social media tool in town, and it’s from Instagram Threads.…

Meta Threads is testing pinned columns on the web, similar to the old TweetDeck

As part of 2024’s Accessibility Awareness Day, Google is showing off some updates to Android that should be useful to folks with mobility or vision impairments. Project Gameface allows gamers…

Google expands hands-free and eyes-free interfaces on Android