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Netflix talking with other studios after big Disney deal

December 20, 2012 By CLAIRE ATKINSON

A day after striking a game-changing deal for Disney movies, Netflix content boss Ted Sarandos said the streaming service is in talks with other studios to “accelerate the windows and get fresher content.”

Netflix announced yesterday that it had outbid premium channel Starz for the exclusive rights to stream new Disney releases shortly after they end their theatrical run, starting in 2016.

The deal, estimated to cost Netflix $350 million a year, was seen as a major coup. It marked the first time a big Hollywood studio had picked a Web rival for that crucial pay-TV window over a premium channel such as HBO, Showtime and Starz.

When asked if he would look to look to ink similar deals with other major studios such as Universal or Warner Bros., Sarandos said: “Warner’s deal [with HBO] is up in 2014. This gives Warner the opportunity to do other things, to look at this.”

While it might appear to be long shot given Time Warner’s ownership of both HBO and Warner Bros., Sarandos pointed out that Netflix was working with Universal to get movies on the streaming service that perhaps HBO didn’t want.

He cited animated film “The Lorax,” as an example, saying that family programming was high on Netflix’s agenda but less so for HBO.

Sarandos’ remarks came from his interview with film impresario Harvey Weinstein at UBS’ annual media conference in New York.

“Netflix is in the early stages of what this business can be,” Sarandos said, when asked if the company would end up selling to a deep-pocketed suitor.

Sarandos also claimed that the company’s relationship with activist investor Carl Icahn, who owns a near 10 percent stake in Netflix, was “really positive.”

“He’s been very supportive of the business and the management team,” Sarandos said.

Icahn has suggested Netflix could be sold and would be an attractive takeover target for Apple or Microsoft. He also criticized Netflix CEO Reed Hastings for adopting a poison pill to prevent such a takeover.

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