Netflix could pay up to one billion dollars for the rights to stream recently-released feature films from Lionsgate, MGM and Paramount in a deal with cable movie channel upstart Epix.
The Los Angeles Times says the deal has been discussed for months but it’s still facing a few hurdles. Not the least of these is the fact that cable providers (which Epix is fighting an uphill battle to woo) would be less inclined to carry Epix if it also offers its content online outside of its own private portal.
However, Epix might do well to place its bets on online media instead of traditional cable in general if it’s in this for the long haul.
If the deal goes through, the LA Times claims it will last five years, help Epix meet its goal of breaking even in 2011 and retain movie studios’ option to also sell and rent their films on iTunes () even as they’re showing on Epix. Competing movie channel HBO doesn’t give its partners the same options.
Films currently on Epix include Iron Man, Star Trek, Saw VI, The Cove, and Indiana Jones and the Raiders of the Lost Ark. Epix has also tried making original material, including a Steve Jobs parody created by a Seinfeld writer.
The LA Times report doesn’t clarify whether or not all titles available on Epix will also be available on Netflix. Netflix could definitely use the influx of current, mainstream movies; many of the Hollywood blockbusters it streams today are provided by a similar deal with the cable movie channel Starz.