Netflix To Stream Movies Before Cable

A new deal lets you stream before you can click

By Scott Budman
|  Thursday, Dec 2, 2010  |  Updated 6:16 AM PDT
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Netflix To Stream Movies Before Cable

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Want to see "The Departed" or "Blood Diamond" soon, and figure you'll just wait for it to come on cable?  If Netflix has its way, you'll have a chance to see films like those, even before cable gets their hands on them.

The streaming DVD juggernaut from Los Gatos has done it again.  The latest deal gives Netflix the chance to let you stream first-run movies from a studio called FilmDistrict before they start airing on the premium cable channels you're used to finding them on.  FilmDistrict, which was co-founded by the producer of the two aforementioned movies, is the latest arrow in the quickly expanding Netflix quiver as it takes aim at cable.

Netflix (NFLX) has been making gradual inroads in this fight for some time now.  Cable has been big and successful for a long time, but Netflix is chipping away at just about every reason you'll need to pay for a monthly cable subscription.  Movies and TV shows stream pretty much when you want them from Netflix, for a fee that's a steep discount from what you're probably paying right now for cable.  Investors have noticed, too:  Even within the scope of good times for tech stocks, Netflix has been on fire.

Under the newest deal, movies like "Drive" and ":Lockout" will hit the Netflix streaming service before they hit, say, HBO.  Netflix has been signing deals like these just about every day lately, spending money to get smaller studios like FilmDistrict in its corner.  If this latest deal looks good in, say, six to nine months, look for bigger studios to sit up, set the popcorn aside, and take notice.

Scott should have bought Netflix stock when he started renting their DVDs.  He's on Twitter:  @scottbudman

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