Netflix counters bad press with 'The Fighter,' 'Mad Men'

Just when everyone is dumping on Netflix's streaming selection, the besieged video service adds some white-hot material.

At a time when thousands of Netflix subscribers are jeering the company for the lack of selection in its streaming library, here comes "Irish" Mickey Ward and Don Draper to help mount a rally.

Netflix, the Web's No. 1 video-rental service, now has "The Fighter," the Academy Award nominated film, available for streaming and announced that the much honored AMC TV series "Mad Men" will be added to the streaming library on July 27.

Netflix has been getting clobbered by customers who are angry after the company announced a 60 percent price hike last week. At the center of the issue is that people who were renting DVDs to supplement the poor selection of quality titles in the streaming area now to have pay more. The company has struggled to license from the top Hollywood studios the higher-end films for streaming. You can read stories about that here and here .

A year ago, Netflix signed a $100 million deal with Relativity Media to acquire streaming rights to a group of films, including "The Fighter," a biopic starring Mark Wahlberg as Ward. Last April, Netflix surprised many by securing rights to "Mad Men," the first basic-cable TV show to win an Emmy for "Outstanding Drama Series."

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If you haven't seen "Mad Men" because a show about 1960s New York ad executives doesn't pique your interest, it's certainly worth a chance on Netflix. It's one of the smartest and best acted-shows on TV. As for "The Fighter," this is no cheap "Rocky" knockoff. The film is Ward's tale and is less about boxing then it is about his struggle to be loyal to his family, including a crack-addicted brother, while also reviving his all-but-dead boxing career.

"The Fighter" is the level of filmmaking Netflix subscribers want available on streaming. We're just going to have to wait and see if CEO Reed Hastings can deliver.

Note: Below are two clips, one of the real Ward just as he began his comeback. The announcers were mocking him for not putting up a better fight. The second is a clip of Ward in his first fight against Arturo Gatti. The three fights between Gatti and Ward were fierce battles and what inspired Wahlberg to make the movie. HBO voted the fight one of the last decade's 10 best.

Correction: 5:08 p.m. PT: This story failed to include that the deal between Relativity Media and Netflix was for multiple films, not just "The Fighter."

 

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