As of today, a bunch of titles will no longer be available on Netflix Streaming. Hundreds in fact. According to Sam Adams over at Slate, it’s the result of several concomitant contract situations, but the tl;dr version is that pre-1986 Warner Bros. and United Artists titles are off the site, but will be available at the newly-launched Warner Instant Archive. The full list of what’s no longer available is here, but Adams has constructed a list of a few standouts, and you’ll probably be able to feel the pinch more personally when you open your streaming queue to find it much, much lighter.
Studios and content owners seem to be heading toward more isolated streaming services which seek to play off the popularity of streaming without having to share the profits with anyone else, and that’s a giant mistake. It’s not that companies can’t do it themselves, although they probably can’t do it nearly as well as Netflix. It’s that part of the draw of being on a general service — and part of the appeal of how the Internet works writ large now — is that you tap into an audience you wouldn’t have normally gotten. Maybe Warners has numbers that contradict that, but in principle, Netflix should work a lot like a mall: people who would never naturally consider going in your store might check it out simply because it’s by the Orange Julius (aka the only store anyone goes to the mall for). By shifting content to their own service, Warners is effectively leaving the larger environment of movie fans in order to bet big on direct appeal.
So that’s the main question: will you add another $10/month service to your pile to specifically get 8 decades of Warners and United Artists movies? The sub-question, of course, is whether this loss of titles will make you drop Netflix.