Did Sony block its movies from Netflix’s Xbox 360 player?

Interesting little fight brewing in the obscure world of online movie streaming. It seems that when Netflix agreed to send its streaming movies to the Xbox 360, at least one of Sony’s movie studios (Columbia Pictures, according to this Engadget report) took issue with that. 

Whether this was malicious on the part of Columbia Pictures is open for debate. If this were a Sony strategy, it would be likely that all Sony Pictures Home Entertainment content would drop out as well, but it hasn’t. Official word from Netflix suggests that this is normal in the course of licensing content — the original licenses probably didn’t include specification of all the possible outputs for Netflix. It’s reasonable to assume that there’s some renegotiation likely to occur.

Whether this was something Sony did on purpose or whether it was a coincidence (the timing is suspect because today was the launch of the new user interface for the Xbox 360, including prominent display of the Netflix streaming option), I don’t think this will stick. For two reasons.

  1. The public sentiment is already turning sour against Sony. Without evidence that Sony was acting out of malice, the gamer/movie viewer community is already moaning and complaining loudly. Just read any blog comments on this topic to find plenty of Sony vitriol to go around. It’s almost as bad as the political season we just went through.
  2. Sony doesn’t really work like that. It would be very unusual for Sony’s video game unit to be able to exert such specific pressure of a subsidiary of the Sony Picutres side of the house. I won’t offer specifics here, but suffice it to say that Sony is not ruled by one point of view. It’s a house of many different views and I find it unlikely that this would be part of a master conspiracy to punish people for having an Xbox 360. Think of it this way: Sony doesn’t prevent you from watching Sony DVDs on Samsung DVD players, right?

Maybe I’m just a nice guy. Do you think I’m wrong? Is this a nefarious plot? Or just awful timing for a rights negotiation to come up?

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One Response to Did Sony block its movies from Netflix’s Xbox 360 player?

  1. […] Soon after there was Sony, who tooketh away their films. […]

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