The complicated relationship between Netflix and HBO just got a bit more complicated.
The New York Times' Brian Stelter is reporting that HBO is no longer selling its DVDs at a discount to Netflix as of January 1, a move that continues the battle between the two entertainment giants for the eyes of paid content buyers.
Though Netflix will certainly lose money having to buy its DVDs of HBO series from retail outlets, HBO's non-cooperation here is perhaps more important as a further declaration of war between Netflix and HBO, two companies that often name-check each other in public as both rivals and potential partners, true frenemies in the big entertainment world.
Recent highlights of the HBO-Netflix feud include HBO co-president Eric Kessler telling an audience in December that Netflix would never get its shows for streaming, which followed by six months HBO's decision to hook up with Dish Network's Internet streaming service DishOnline rather than Netflix in April (with, as a bonus, a Dish Network exec taking a shot at Netflix's service model in the press release); a Time Warner exec anonymously telling the Hollywood Reporter in January that HBO might consider listening to Netflix's overtures if the company started charging $20 per month; and Netflix CEO Reed Hastings saying that the show he wants most on Netflix streaming is HBO's narco-drama "The Wire" in April and that the direct competitor his company is most concerned with is HBO, whose streaming service HBO GO is included for most customers who pay for HBO with their cable and satellite subscriptions.
Of HBO as a rival, Hastings said the following in December:
The competitor we fear the most is HBO Go. They aren't competing directly with us now, but they can. HBO is becoming much more Netflix-like, and we're becoming much more HBO-like.
That Netflix and HBO aren't directly competing is not quite true, in fact, as the two previously battled over the upcoming drama "House of Cards," created by David Fincher and starring Kevin Spacey. Netflix eventually won that battle, securing exclusive rights to "House of Cards" for a reported 100+ million dollars. It was the first original programming deal for Netflix; the company soon followed up with exclusives for a fourth season of cult classic "Arrested Development" and the Steven Van Zandt mobster drama "Lilyhammer", which debuts next month.
HBO is indeed becoming more Netflix-like, however, with its HBO GO streaming service and its agreement with Dish. Netflix, meanwhile, is also becoming more HBO-like, with its content deals for premium shows.
The HBO-Netflix War certainly escalated in 2011, and this latest monetary swipe by HBO once again puts the two at odds in 2012.