Netflix just won the exclusive rights to some big name movies -- including a big-time Oscar favorite -- in its continuing effort to bolster and differentiate its growing streaming library.
The company has announced a multi-year deal with The Weinstein Company that will bring Academy Award nominee "The Artist," Best Documentary nominee "Undefeated," and several other "specialty films," including acclaimed documentaries and foreign films, from TWC to Netflix.com.
The deal ensures that the 2012 Oscars' likely Best Picture winner "The Artist" will make its American debut on Netflix before it airs on any paid television network.
"All content [included in the deal] is available for the low monthly subscription," Netflix spokesman Steve Swasey wrote in an email to HuffPost, confirming the deal.
"It is a fantastic coup for Netflix to acquire 'The Artist' and the package of additional titles," Harvey Weinstein, the co-chairman of The Weinstein Company, said in a statement released to the press. "With this deal, a company that loves movies, Netflix, joins forces with a company that is built on that same love. It's exciting that we can offer consumers a supremely convenient way to see the kinds of movies that made us want to be in this business in the first place."
Swasey declined to comment on how much money Netflix spent nor for how many years the contract runs.
Netflix is expected to accelerate spending on streaming content in 2012 and onwards as it attempts to build out and pad its online library of movies and television shows. CEO Reed Hastings has reiterated several times that he and his company view streaming as the future of Netflix and the way that people watch entertainment. As Netflix veers away from the mail-in DVD business that made it popular in the early-to-mid-2000s, it has increasingly pivoted toward and emphasized its growing streaming library.
That move towards streaming has proven painful over the past year, as a series of PR snafus badly hurt Netflix's reputation in the public eye in 2011. Streaming had previously been included with DVD plans until Netflix decoupled the two in July, causing a mass subscriber backlash and higher-than-expected account cancellations. Hastings has said that the separating DVDs and streaming was a painful but necessary step in its efforts to become a streaming site.
"The Artist" and other Weinstein Company films are the latest in Netflix's streaming spending spree, one that is expected to continue in 2012. Lately Netflix has been making waves with its purchase of high-profile original content, including a new season of cult favorite "Arrested Development." Netflix also recently struck non-exclusive deals with ABC and AMC.
This deal with The Weinstein Company, however, brings a high-profile film exclusively to Netflix, for the time being. Whether deals like this one will continue to bring subscribers back to Netflix remains to be seen.