In light of the announcement (Chicago Tribune, 1/6/10) that new home video releases from Warner Bros. would not be available through Netflix for the first 28 days after their debut, I would reiterate the following firmly held belief:
The people who are renting are not the same people who are buying. Limiting availability of rental discs is not going to spur purchases since those people are looking for the lowest-cost option to see the movie at that moment and aren’t all of a sudden going to find $30 lying around to go buy the movie on impulse. They’re just going to wait and so you’re just going to not get that income for a month.
There’s some discussion about how this deal is actually about the long tail of non-new releases and about Netflix wanting the instant streaming wins they got. But that only goes so far and ultimately I feel the thinking behind release windows is off-base and winds up hurting consumers.