Netflix and Miramax clinch streaming video deal

Netflix has announced a licensing deal with Miramax that will allow U.S. subscribers to stream several hundred  movies owned by the studio beginning in June.

Dozens of additional titles are expected to be added on a “rotating basis” after the deal goes into effect.

The partnership is by far the largest significant (digital) transaction for the studio since it was sold by Disney to a group of investors for $660 million.

Although specific details of the agreement have yet to be disclosed, reports the multi-year package could be worth more than $100 million to Miramax. 

While that may seem like a lot of money, Miramax opted for a less exclusive (and potentially less lucrative) deal with Netflix – in favor of keeping its future options open for potential partnerships with cloud or locker services.

In an interview from Cannes this weekend, Miramax CEO Mike Lang praised the licensing agreement, saying “With this deal and the other deals we’ve done in home entertainment, international distribution and accounts receivable, we clearly have a path to pay back the investment.”

In December of 2010, Lang talked about keeping Miramax’s options open as licensing content, stating “We’re at the precipice of working with everybody. We’re going to do it all.”

He added that opting for an open relationship is taking somewhat of a risk, “We felt it was important for the rest of the market to hopefully catch up … It may ultimately pay off. [Or], wae may be wrong.”

Lang stated that under Disney, Miramax’s titles were available for sell-thru with Apple and some streaming VOD services like Amazon, yet profits failed to exceed $1 million.

He added, “Either Disney didn’t value it the way it should have been or didn’t focus on it.”

Referring to Disney CEO Bob Iger’s previous statement that he supports Hulu, yet not exclusively, Lang jabbed, “In defense of Hulu, if Netflix would have been nice enough to offer me equity I might be exclusive.”

Lang was involved in the initial set-up of the video portal Hulu while he worked at News Corp.

It will be interesting to see how Miramax further leverages its non-exclusivity deal and if it indeed pays off for the studio as more streaming cloud and locker services invade the home movie scene.