Warner Bros. planning 56-day release window delays

 @ibtimes
on January 07 2012 6:00 PM

For the past year, studios have been flirting with stretching out the delays on when Netflix, Redbox and Blockbuster can rent new releases, but it looks like Warner Bros. is going to be the first to take the plunge.

The studio plans to make the home entertainment companies wait 56 days from when new releases go on sale to offer DVDs and Blu-rays, according to a report from AllThingsD.

The move is seen as part of an ongoing effort by the industry to prop up a DVD market that has struggled to keep pace with plunging disc sales and a shift among many consumers to digital streaming.

A spokesman for Warner Bros. declined to comment on speculation. Netflix, Redbox and Blockbuster did not respond to requests for comment.

AllThingsD reports that the new pacts will be announced at next week's Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas.

Warner Bros.' distribution contracts with Netflix and Redbox are due up at the end of this month, according to an individual with knowledge of the deals. It is not clear when the pact with Blockbuster expires.

Under the current agreement, Netflix and Redbox are giving discounts on discs in return for honoring a 28 day delay on when they offer new releases.

The news comes as Time Warner subsidiary HBO said that it will no longer provide discs to Netflix. The red-envelope company can still buy discs from third-party distributors, thanks to the First Sale doctrine which allows companies to resell pre-recorded discs, but it will pay more for them.

If Warner Bros. gambit works, expect other studios to follow suit. If the battle over release windows that unspooled a few years ago is any guide, that will also mean lots of legal wrangling and bad blood.

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