Netflix outbids Starz for rights to Disney movies

December 5, 2012 • Business

This combination of AP file photos shows the Walt Disney logo in Burbank, Calif. on June 2, 2006, and Netflix’s headquarters in Los Gatos, Calif., on March 20, 2012. Netflix’s video subscription service has trumped pay-TV channels and grabbed the rights on Tuesday, Dec. 4, 2012, to show Disney movies shortly after they finish their runs in theaters. (AP Photo/File)

SAN FRANCISCO (AP) — Netflix’s Internet video service has landed the U.S. rights to show Disney movies shortly after they leave theaters, a coup that could turn into a costly mistake if the deal doesn’t bring in more customers.

The multiyear licensing agreement announced Tuesday represents a breakthrough for Netflix as it tries to secure more exclusive programming for a popular service that streams video over high-speed Internet connections. The approach is making Netflix more like traditional pay-TV channels such as HBO, Starz and Showtime.

Financial terms weren’t disclosed, but analysts estimate that Netflix will pay Disney more than $350 million annually. That’s a hefty bill that will require Netflix to accelerate its subscriber growth or consider raising its prices — something that management has vowed not to do after rankling customers with rate hikes last year.

Netflix is snatching the rights to the Disney movies from Starz, which had failed to reach terms on renewing a separate licensing agreement with Netflix. Until February, Netflix’s streaming service had access to Disney movies through that Starz deal. The loss had been interpreted as a blow that diminished Netflix’s market value.

Investors applauded Netflix Inc. for trumping Starz to get the Disney rights directly from The Walt Disney Co. — and for winning an exclusive provision that shuts out Starz and other rivals.

Netflix shares surged $10.65, or 14 percent, to close Tuesday at Login to read more

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