Netflix to Expand Digital Library

By Derek Ku
Derek Ku
Derek Ku
October 1, 2011 Updated: October 1, 2011

NEW YORK—Netflix Inc. revealed a multi-year licensing agreement with DreamWorks Animation SKG, Inc. that will give subscribers exclusive access to feature films and television specials from DreamWorks.

Effective in 2013, the deal enables Netflix (Nasdaq: NFLX) to give its customers the latest media released by DreamWorks (Nasdaq: DWA), notable for films such as Shrek, How to Train your Dragon, and Kung Fu Panda.

By February 2012, Netflix will have lost Starz, which provides content from Sony Corp. and Disney. Netflix won the DreamWorks Animation rights from cable-TV rival HBO, indicating that Internet video remains a profitable market.

Netflix recently raised its subscription price about 60 percent for U.S. customers who want both DVDs and Internet video due to higher cost for streaming rights. Netflix also rebranded its DVD-by-mail service as Qwikster, which was not as warmly welcomed as anticipated.

All of this has hit Netflix’s share price. Since peaking at around $298 per share in July, Netflix has seen its shares tumble 62 percent since then, ending last Friday at $113.27.

Amazon.com Inc. (Nasdaq: AMZN) poses as a formidable threat as it secured 2,000 TV episodes and movies from Twentieth Century Fox, including shows like “Arrested Development” and “24.” Amazon currently holds 11,000 titles in its streaming service, which comes as a part of its package called Amazon Prime, where customers can opt to have unlimited access to video streaming and discounted shipping on items purchased from its store.

Despite losing almost 600,000 U.S. subscribers from increasing rates, Netflix still has a large customer base paying for it’s movies and TV shows than Amazon, which has only around 24 million subscribers.

Amazon recently released its new tablet, the Kindle Fire. The tablet is priced at a mere $199 and offers many features similar to other tablets such as books, music, and movies, through the Amazon Cloud. The release of the Kindle Fire opens up a new opportunity for Amazon’s media streaming outlet that could pose as threat to Netflix.

While the companies are competing right now, Wedbush Securities Analyst Michael Pachter foresees Amazon buying Netflix’s streaming video service, which could be valued up to $7.2 billion dollars, or around $130 per share.

Netflix and Amazon have refused to respond to the speculation.

Derek Ku