Netflix offered more than US$300 million to renew its deal with Starz, but the premium programmer balked because it demanded that the video streamer package Starz content with a premium-priced tier, reports The Los Angeles Times. Netflix didn't go for it, but the paper said Starz wanted that condition to protect its relationships (and pricing) with MSOs, telcos and satellite service providers that are fearful that baking Starz into the current Netflix tiers, which start at $8 per month, could leave them vulnerable to more cord-cutting.
Netflix hasn't issued a statement about the unraveling with Starz as of this writing, but Netflix CEO Reed Hastings shrugged off the effects in comments given to Business Insider. Hastings said Starz content currently represents 8 percent of domestic Netflix subscriber viewing and expects that to dip to five to six percent in the first quarter of 2012 as it adds a "huge" amount of content before the end of 2011.
Jefferies & Company Inc. Managing Director Youssef Squali isn't as confident that Netflix can fill the gap and keep churn in check, pointing out in a note issued this morning that Starz provided Netflix with movies from Sony and Disney representing up to 30 percent of Hollywood studio output. Netflix could try to score Sony and Disney movie deals on its own, but it'll have to settle for later release windows, he wrote.
The news on Netflix didn't help out its stock. It was down $19.79 (8.48 percent) to $213.48 each in early trading Friday.
Which over-the-top box -- the Apple TV, Roku 2 or Boxee Box -- is the best for the average consumer? According to The Wall Street Journal's Walter Mossberg, his vote went to Apple Inc. (Nasdaq: AAPL)'s latest entry, with Roku Inc. a close second. He recommends Apple TV for people who use iTunes a lot, but was particularly keen on the Roku 2's simplicity and video quality. He liked the vast library of the pricier Boxee box, but found it much more complex and therefore better suited to tech geeks.