COMMENTARY | Perhaps seeing the death of Michael Jackson led to record music sales in 2009, as reported by The New York Times, the Daily Caller reported Warner Bros. decided not to take any chances on letting a spike of nostalgia slip past the passing of Whitney Houston. According to the report, Warner Bros. ordered Netflix to pull all of Houston's films out of the streaming catalog to maximize the effects of DVD sales. While that would be a savvy business move, it is also a terrible decision that really disrespected the accomplishments of a pop culture icon.
Of course, Netflix would deny pulling the films occurred, as the company did in a Digital Trends report. In fact, the report informs users not accustomed to the fluctuations of the Netflix catalog that "The Bodyguard" was available for streaming until the license expired in 2011, but is currently available as a mail-order DVD.
While Netflix is in the clear of trying to profit off the death of a superstar, the Digital Trend reports Sony is not so lucky because the company was forced to apologize for raising the price of a few of Houston's albums hours after her death was reported. According to The Hollywood Reporter, the price increase was a mistake made by an employee and not on the direction of the studio.
There can be little doubt that trying to extract a few more dollars from fans after such a tragic event is more than a little distasteful. But the speed at which information moves today allows anyone, not just record or movie companies, to profit highly from a bump in the popularity of a star. In this case, fortunately both instances turned out to be either a mistake or bad information, but that does not mean the practice will not occur in the future.
- Whitney Houston
- death of Michael Jackson