Upstart production studio Relativity Media and Netflix have just struck what’s being termed the “largest pay TV deal ever,” with Relativity’s content now being distributed exclusively through the site’s online streaming service instead of traditional pay-TV channels like HBO and Showtime. As Deadline’s Nikki Finke points out in her rather sneering update, this deal “might be impressive if more of Relativity Media's movies did better at the box office”—and she stops just short of openly mocking Relativity’s recently announced aspirations to become a “mini-major.” But even though the studio run by hot-shot former venture capitalist Ryan Kavanaugh (whose self-professed motto is “I’m not in this for the art”) has developed a reputation as a middling-fare factory that chooses what stories to tell based on a number-crunching “risk-assessment algorithm,” it’s also responsible for up to 30-plus new movies a year—so far in 2010 it’s released The Bounty Hunter, Dear John, Leap Year, MacGruber, Robin Hood, and Grown Ups—so it’s a sizable chunk of new releases that those once-stalwart networks will now be losing to Netflix. This would also seem to be Netflix’s first stab at fighting back against those same networks, who either plan to or already have quietly launched their own streaming services like HBO GO. It looks like the future is currently buffering.
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