Starz Entertainment will implement a new policy under which episodes of its original series will not be available on Netflix until 90 days after they debut on the Starz network, starting with the April 1 premiere of period drama Camelot, with first-run movies later following suit.
However, subscribers with Comcast, Dish Network and AT&T -- which have agreements with Starz to offer "TV Everywhere" access to authenticated content -- will still have full day-and-date access to all current network programming through Starz Online.
On Netflix, past seasons of Starz series, including Spartacus, and previously aired movies will continue to be available for streaming, according to a spokeswoman for the programmer.
Netflix vice president of corporate communications Steve Swasey said the change was "straightforward," noting that the company's subscribers place more value on breadth of content selection than immediacy. He said the 90-day window for Starz content was still shorter than some TV licensing deals.
Moreover, Swasey noted, Starz signed up 800,000 new subscribers in the fourth quarter of 2010 even with the programmer's content output deal with Netflix. "It's good for everybody," he said.
Starz and Netflix are in the midst of negotiating a new deal, with the current agreement set to expire in the middle of the first quarter of 2012. Some pay-TV distributors were aggravated by Starz's deal with Netflix, which includes access to about 2,500 Starz movie titles as part of subscription plans starting at $8 per month. Cable, satellite and telco distributors can charge as much as $14.95 a month for a Starz multiplex.
The change in Starz's online policy comes after Showtime Networks earlier this week indicated it will as of this summer no longer provide episodes of currently airing series, such as Dexter and Californication, to Netflix for Internet streaming access. Past series, such as The Tudors, will continue to be available on Netflix.
Regarding the Showtime change, Swasey said, "we're perplexed... because we expect to continue providing Showtime titles."
Netflix's deal with Starz is for Starz Play, available to broadband providers and online distributors. Starz Play, as distinct from the Starz Online services for pay-TV affiliates, is also offered by Verizon and Qwest International to their high-speed Internet users for an additional monthly fee.