Starz to Delay Release of Shows on Netflix

Starz, the pay cable channel, is about to be more restrictive about what it allows Netflix to stream to customers’ computers and television sets. The channel has been one of Netflix’s closest partners, but it backed off a bit from that partnership on Thursday, when it announced a three-month delay between the time Starz plays new TV episodes and when those episodes will be available on Netflix. Starz also said that it would impose a similar delay for movies sometime in the future, though Netflix said any such delay of movies would violate the contract between the two companies. The policy shift by Starz, a unit of Liberty Media, reflects an attitude change toward Netflix by many in Hollywood. Though Netflix, which has more than 20 million subscribers, has been embraced by media companies as a new buyer of library content, it is perceived by some of those companies as a competitive threat. Starz, after all, relies on subscriber revenue just as Netflix does. Showtime, a unit of the CBS Corporation, is also expected to place new restrictions on the shows it streams through Netflix later this year. Last week, Netflix said it would enter the original programming business by buying the rights to two seasons of “House of Cards,” a new political thriller. The show will have its premiere exclusively on Netflix late next year.

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