Sometimes you really have to wonder about some legacy entertainment industry execs and their thought process. Warner Bros. is the most aggressively stupid when it comes to willfully going against what consumers want and pushing them to pirate instead. It, among the big Hollywood studios has been the leader in trying to hold back rentals in the bizarre belief that if people can’t rent a video legally, they’re suddenly more likely to pony up many times the amount to buy the full DVD. This is what we call denial. And economically clueless. The latest detail, which came out last week, is that one of WB’s new conditions with its deal with Netflix isn’t just that the rentals are delayed by 56 days (up from the previous 28), but that they won’t even be able to put the delayed movie in their “wanted” queue until 28 days before it’s actually available.
Under the companies’ previous agreement, users could add discs to their queues even before they went on sale. Warner executives apparently believed that policy made it easier for consumers to wait, confident that the discs would arrive eventually.
But now when users search for Warner’s “A Very Harold and Kumar Christmas,” which goes on sale Feb. 7, the Netflix website simply says the movie is not available. Consumers will have wait until March 6 to add the film to their queues and until April 3 to get it in the mail.
What’s amazing about this policy is that it seems to provide the exact opposite incentives of what WB should want. At least, when they could put it in their queue as a sort of “pre-release” commitment, they knew they’d be getting it soon, and would have less incentive to go out and get it through unauthorized means. But, now, they won’t even have that, making it even more likely they seek the movie out via unauthorized means. WB is in complete denial if it thinks this is suddenly going to make people more interested in buying the physical DVDs.