Following last week's $1 billion streaming-rights deal between Epix (and its partners Paramount, Lionsgate and MGM) and Netflix, other studios and cable channels could be very interested in becoming partners with the latter company. Though no distributors are named in the article as eying a similar venture, The Hollywood Reporter surmises that Netflix has "upped the ante so significantly that movie studios have no doubt begun to ratchet up expectations for licensing fees they can charge going forward."

One of the interesting points made in the report is that Netflix now has streaming rights to movies that have contributed to 46% of the 2010 box office, while comparatively HBO's rights only account for 45%. Some analysts think the Netflix/Epix deal signals the death of channels like HBO, because Netflix is clearly offering more for content than the pay TV companies ($200m/year vs. $175m/year). But as long as HBO continues its success with original programming, a direction Netflix isn't heading in, I don't believe it's "toast" just yet.

There is also the fact that Netflix doesn't get to stream its Epix titles until 90 days after they show up on cable. Plus, HBO could get into bed with Netflix rather than see them as a threat. The subscription-based distributor is interested in licensing deals with them and Showtime. Rather than pay TV, the true competition for Netflix may come through Redbox, which will probably see this recent deal as something to copy in their move to online streaming content. Perhaps they'll go after HBO first, or there will be a bidding war? HBO and its studio partners (Universal, Warner Bros., DreamWorks, Fox) will surely win out if that happens.

On the negative side of things for Netflix customers, THR also addresses predictions that the company could in the future reserve streaming access to higher-paying subscribers. The company denies plans to do this, but it would indeed make sense for them to look at ways to balance that money spent on licensing. Still, it's noted that the more that people stream movies instead of rent the physical discs, the lower the expense is for Netflix -- and likewise its customers -- due to savings of postage costs.

I keep hearing from more and more people -- especially friends and relatives -- who are canceling cable and focusing on Netflix and other similar kinds of services (including renting from Amazon VOD). But I think deals like last week's could help more than hurt the channels being abandoned in migrations to streaming content. Agree or disagree?