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OnScreen Summit: Netflix-Disney Deal a 'Game Changer'

AXS TV's Cuban says smaller content providers may suffer 12/06/2012 04:43:04 PM Eastern

The recent exclusive film deal that Netflix struck with
Disney is a "game changer," according to Jeff Cuban, executive VP,
AXS TV/Magnolia Pictures, echoing comments made by Netflix chief content officer Ted Sarandos during the UBS Media conference this week.

Cuban was speaking during the Programming Roundtable at B&C/Multichannel's OnScreen Summit
here Thursday. The panel was moderated by Multichannel
News'
programming editor R. Thomas Umstead.

"Netflix doing this deal with Disney, very well may
have the same impact on downstream content providers as retrans negotiations
and increase sports rights fees are having on the cable industry," said
Cuban. "They're spending a heck of a lot of money."

Cuban finished by noting that choices by Netflix will have
to made, and if he wonders of some of their lesser-profile content partners
will suffer. "Somebody is not going to get paid on the bottom end that was
typically getting license fees from Netflix."

Michael Bishara, VP and GM of TV Everywhere at Synacor,
looked at the Netflix-Disney deal in terms of the consumer, noting that he
wondered whether the payout will force Netflix to raise its subscriber fees. "How
long with the $8 [fee] hold?" he asked. With the deal being a big blow to
Starz, who holds the rights for Disney's films through 2017, Bishara commented
that the main takeaway from the deal is that "it's the realization that
the premium window is pretty darn compelling."

Use of the On Demand platform has helped the film industry
as well, especially with smaller, more independently-funded moves. That's a
good thing according to Bill Livek, CEO and vice chairman, Rentrak, who
said in his opening remarks that "the On Demand cycle is more healthy than
ever before."

Cuban's film distribution company, Magnolia Pictures, distributes
many films that aren't from the major studios. He said that On Demand is a
great way to preview these films, noting that if it performs well, it helps the
movie get shown in theatres. "That model works very well," he said.

Susan Cartsonis, executive producer and president for Storefront
Pictures, says that On Demand model has paved way for films that wouldn't see
the light of day. "I think it's great for movie producers because it
allows movies that wouldn't get made otherwise to get made," said
Cartsonis.

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