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Netflix delay for Fox, Universal

Pics won't be released until 28 days after DVD bow

In its latest move to play nice with the major studios while boosting the number of titles it can stream digitally, Netflix has agreed not to offer movies from Universal and Fox until 28 days after they bow on DVD in stores.

The agreement is similar to a pact Netflix brokered with Warner Bros. in January. At the time, it was expected that other studios would follow suit with their own 28-day pacts.

As part of the deal, the studios will provide Netflix with more inventory at a discounted price and enable the company to offer more titles through its video-streaming service. At the same time, studios will be able to sell their own DVDs and Blu-rays at a premium price when they bow on disc without having to worry about consumers turning to Netflix to rent them.

The Fox deal comes as it’s about to release “Avatar” on DVD April 21. Netflix will now have to wait until late May to offer the title.

However, Netflix also will be able to offer Fox shows like “24” to stream as part of the pact.

“Our intent is to forge agreements that make sense for the companies involved and that, on the whole, improve the consumer experience and the movie ecosystem,” said Ted Sarandos, Netflix’s chief content officer.

Netflix has been aggressive about growing its library of online offerings, allowing its paying members the ability to view movies or TV shows from any device that can connect to the Internet, including computers, TVs, cable boxes, videogame consoles, DVD players and now the iPad. It’s eyeing phones that run Android as another platform.

The company believes that strategy will enable it to grow its membership for years to come. And Netflix isn’t alone.

Rival Redbox, which rents DVDs for $1 through its kiosks, is beginning to make moves to roll out its own streaming service.

The company recently started surveying customers to ask whether they’d be interested in an unlimited video-streaming service that would cost $3.95 per month — half of what Netflix charges. The service would up the ante by offering four kiosk rentals per month.

Redbox has not revealed definitive plans for the service, but a spokesperson said the company was “looking into the possibility of it.”

Blockbuster is also devising its own growth plans, which involve renting videogames by mail as part of its Total Access service.

The company has been testing the Games by Mail service in Cleveland, Ohio, since February, and is now expanding it to Seattle before introducing it nationwide. Customers would be able to choose from more than 3,000 games to rent for $7.99 per month, once officially rolled out.

Service would challenge Gamefly.

Either way, Blockbuster sees deals like Netflix’s pact with the studios as a gain for its own company.

Blockbuster’s deal with the studios enables it to offer movies for rent the same day they hit store shelves to buy, including “Avatar.”

And the company hasn’t been shy in touting that fact, with online ads stressing how Warner Bros.’ “The Blind Side” and “Sherlock Holmes” are available through Blockbuster’s stores, through its mail and streaming services, and not through Netflix and Redbox.

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