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Netflix Boosts Streaming Catalog With First-Run Movies

Netflix announced today that it has signed a multi-year deal with newly-formed film distribution company FilmDistrict to bring first-run films to its streaming catalog.

Last week, Netflix introduced a streaming-only subscription plan in the U.S. and this deal is one step in battling a prime criticism of the plan – that content does not reach Netflix’s streaming-only subscribers quick enough.

According to the terms of the deal, Netflix will work with FilmDistrict to license content for streaming in the “pay TV window,” which occurs in the few months after a movie is released on DVD.

“Under the deal,” the company writes in its press release, “major motion pictures that traditionally would have been licensed to premium cable channels will flow instead from FilmDistrict to Netflix for streaming to its members, beginning in 2011.”

The first two films to reach Netflix subscribers are “Drive” and “Lockout”. The deal, however, is likely just a first step. Film District was formed in early October and plans to “theatrically distribute between four and eight wide release commercial pictures per year.”

Netflix acknowledges the need for more streaming content in its release, writing that “Broadening the variety and timeliness of content available for Netflix members to watch instantly is among the company’s highest priorities as it rapidly transforms itself into a service focused on streaming movies and TV shows over the Internet.”

Will this be enough to quell the calls for more streaming content, faster? Somehow we doubt it, but it’s definitely a move in the right direction.

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