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What is Time Warner (NYSE: TWX ) thinking with this week's rollout of Warner Archive Instant?
The same company that has a legitimate challenger to Netflix (NASDAQ: NFLX ) through its HBO Go streaming platform is now offering up a smorgasbord of its earlier catalog titles through Warner Archive Instant.
Subscribers can pay $9.99 a month for what is presently a very unimpressive catalog of very old shows and movies. Throwback buffs may recall these classics, but there's something funky about the fact that the graphic accompanying the pitch is a still from a 1952 The Adventures of Superman episode.
The "most watched" selections currently include Yul Brynner's The Ultimate Warrior, Marilyn Monroe's The Prince and the Showgirl, and a season of 77 Sunset Strip.
Now, there may very well be nostalgic appeal for some of these selections for older viewers, but are they really the type to be streaming shows off their computers or to even own Roku boxes? That's pretty much the only way that subscribers can consume Warner Archive Instant at the moment.
There's a reason that Netflix has exploded to more than 33 million global streaming customers so quickly. No one can match it on breadth of content, so rivals have tried different strategies.
Coinstar's (NASDAQ: OUTR ) new Redbox Instant matches Netflix on price, but also throws in four nightly DVD rental credits so members can get the new releases that aren't available through Netflix streaming. Amazon.com (NASDAQ: AMZN ) competes on price with its Prime catalog, bundling the growing library of offerings with free two-day deliveries of Amazon purchases.
Where does Warner Archive Instant fit in?
The good news is that it doesn't require a cable subscription. Outside of Scandinavia, you can't get HBO Go unless you're a paying cable or satellite customer with HBO. There's also something to be said about its retro focus. If the future moves away from cable and satellite to piecemeal channels and services, TV fans may find themselves subscribing to several different offerings if they're cheap enough.
However, as it stands, this is an offering with little chance of succeeding.
Sorry, Superman of 1952. Netflix is kryptonite.
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