Hollywood Release Windows Suck

A couple of weeks ago I extolled the virtues of my new Netflix Player. I’m still thrilled with it, but the other day I happened to be looking at my instant queue from a web browser, and I noticed several lines in the queue that looked like this

Netflix Instant Queue

Notice anything about that? Yeah, it’s the “Available Until Dec 31, 2008.” WTF? Out of 53 entries in my instant queue, 9 of them will no longer be available after January 1, 2009. That really, really sucks. According to this article and this one, the reason for this is something called “release windows.” These are time periods that the movie studios allow their movies and shows to appear in a given format. Basically, after a certain amount of time, the studios yank content from one medium, such as downloads, and make it available on another, such as broadcast TV. According to the articles, that’s what the studios think will rake in the most money. It seems to me that the best way to maximize profit for a movie or show is to maximize exposure. This means making it available in as many formats as consumers are willing to pay for, for as long as possible. This would give consumers the most flexibility in how they watch the content. And maybe, just maybe, if it were super easy to legally watch the content that people want to watch, piracy would decline. I’m just speculating on that one, of course.

I understand that businesses have to make money to stay in business, but I’m really not happy that 17% of my queue will evaporate on January 2.

Thanks, Hollywood.