Given that Sony greedily raised the prices on Whitney Houston’s greatest hits album on iTunes within hours of her death (a move that was quickly reversed after a vocal Internet backlash), would anyone be particularly surprised to hear that Warner Bros. had yanked the Netflix streaming rights to The Bodyguard in order to pump up DVD sales? Probably not.
Such appeared to be the case when journalist Dan McDermott began to investigate why the Kevin Costner/Whitney Houston vehicle was no longer available on the Instant Watch service. Noting angry comments in the film’s Netflix review section, McDermott got in contact with the company to find out what was up. Here’s what the representative told him:
“Okay Dan, I just went and talked to my main supervisor as to why the movie had been pulled and the reason it was pulled was the production company pulled the streaming rights from us because all the publicity after Whitney Houston's passing there was an opportunity to make really a very large amount of money on the DVD sales of her movies. So they're going to pull all the streaming titles we have of Whitney Houston so they can make more money off the DVD sales of her movies."
Naturally, this caused another minor Internet uproar – except it turns out that the statement from the Netflix representative and supervisors is 100% wrong.
When the story went viral, Netflix refuted McDermott’s information – which forced the writer to dig deeper to uncover what was really going on. What he discovered, after Googling cached pages of The Bodyguard, was that the streaming rights actually expired on New Years Day. Before New Years, the film shows as available to watch instantly. After January 1st, it’s DVD only. This isn't unusual -- Netflix only gets streaming rights for a limited amount of time -- which is why streaming selections come and go.
McDermott has since posted a correction and update (along with an apology) for the uproar, but far fewer people appear to have seen that than his original posting.
Meanwhile, Warner Home Video can still cash in on the public grieving of Houston’s passing – The Bodyguard is slated to make its Blu-ray debut on March 27th. Until then, let's all put down our torches and pitchforks. Move along, folks -- there's nothing to see here.