Hollywood convergence in Comcast, Netflix deals

The video-rental and online-movie businesses are converging, from both ends, as the middlemen who stand between Hollywood and movie-watchers cut deals:

1) Netflix's deal with Epix, the joint-venture movie-distribution channel run by studios Paramount, Lionsgate and MGM, to distribute some movies online "is a long-term positive" for home-movie-mailer Netflix - but it will need to lure millions of new subscribers (or boost prices or cut costs) to make it worth the "close to" $200 million a year the Los Angeles Times reported Netflix is paying Epix, writes Janney Capital Markets analyst Tony Wible in a report to clients today.

Won't that make Netflix an even more effective competitor (at $10 a month) vs. cable TV? No: The studios that own Epix don't want "to cut off their disc dollars," so they'll make sure Netflix customers "have to wait 90 days after movies debut on Epix [and cable] before they can get them over the Web," notes MediaMemo's Peter Kafka here.

2) Comcast's deal, to give its customers dollar-a-DVD discounts at ailing video-rental chain Blockbuster, will also open 1,500 Blockbuster stores in Comcast territories to Comcast retail sales promos, so Comcast can "market our triple play" video-phone-Internet services to Blockbuster customers, writes Comcast vice president Eric Budin in this blog post. - More from Wall St Journal here

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