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Warner Bros. to force Netflix, Redbox to wait 56 days for DVDs?

The movie studio has yet to make the announcement, but the new deal is expected to be unveiled at the Consumer Electronics Show next week.

Redbox users might need to wait longer for Warner Bros. content.
Redbox users might need to wait longer for Warner Bros. content.

Warner Bros. has kicked off a new trend that could make it even harder for you to rent a DVD when you want, according to a report.

The movie studio has signed a deal with Netflix, Redbox, and Blockbuster, requiring the rental firms to wait to rent DVDs 56 days after they go on sale, All Things Digital reported yesterday, citing sources. The deal is expected to be announced at the Consumer Electronics Show next week.

If the companies did, in fact, ink the deal, it could be a major blow to the rental companies. Currently, consumers are forced to wait 28 days to rent a DVD. That four-week window is designed to boost sales for studios, since profit margins on a purchased DVD or Blu-ray disc are much higher than those on rentals.

For Netflix, the 28-day window has historically been used as a bargaining chip. By relenting on that point, the company has been able to strike key streaming deals with studios. For Redbox, however, the extended window could be a major issue. Currently, consumers have been conditioned to wait 28 days for a film. If Warner Bros. forces a 56-day window and other studios follow suit--a very real possibility--the company's kiosks might soon become flooded with older films consumers typically find less desirable.

This news comes the same week that sources told CNET that HBO has stopped providing DVDs of its shows to Netflix. Although Netflix will still be able to offer the DVDs to customers after acquiring them from other sources, the company won't get the discount HBO previously offered.

HBO's decision is just the latest move on the company's part that makes it clear HBO views Netflix as a competitor. But it's not a one-way street. At the UBS Media conference recently, Netflix CEO Reed Hastings said he fears HBO more than any other competitor.

"They aren't competing directly with us now, but they can," he said. "HBO is becoming much more Netflix-like, and we're becoming much more HBO-like...We'll push each other like two runners."

Netflix declined CNET's request for comment on the All Things Digital report. Redbox did not immediately respond to CNET's request for comment.