Actually, has Evangelion's rights holders ever
had a good relationship with any
of the U.S. licensors? I mean, ADV mangled their
initial attempts at the subs and dubs as well, and, while I don't know if Gainax had issues with ADV's sub/dub quality at the time, Gainax most certainly took issue with ADV's behavior after their Eva licenses had expired. Funimation's release of 1.11 had special features that they did not license from Gainax and were forced to remove them from future printings of the discs, and after Khara acquired the Eva rights, they took issue with Funi's initial sub/dub tracks in their theatrical run of 3.0. (Not to mention the misspellings in the small pamphlet that came with Funi's DVD release of 1.01, which was corrected in their 1.11 releases.)
Weirdly enough, I've never heard Gainax taking issue with Manga Entertainment's infamous handling of D&R and EoE, added sound effects and all. (Just pedantic fans like us take issue with it, because yes, there are issues with their handling of those films.) And I agree with Gen Fukunaga's points, but Gainax/Khara has had a longer history of issues with them than they did with ADV. (Though admittedly, the issues they did take with ADV were far bigger than their issues with Funi.) And Khara is probably thinking more big picture with Netflix's release anyway. Khara doesn't just see it as releasing a show that's great in its own right to a world-wide market, they also see it as Netflix paying for the privilege to advertise the Eva franchise to a world-wide market just in time for Shin Eva's theatrical release in 2020. To Khara, this is probably just another part of their countdown to 2020. They don't need to place Shin Eva adverts in the Netflix release itself, they just gotta plant the Eva bug in the ears of the fans until 2020.
And finally, while Funi would have certainly provided more Pomp & Circumstance to the release of NGE to the U.S., would they really have made Eva any more known in the general public than Netflix would have? I honestly don't know myself. I'd like to say that posters for The End of Evangelion
in U.S. theaters would provide a greater awareness of this property to the average American, but all I really know is that I would have creamed myself looking at them and have asked the manager of the theater if I could take them home with me after the screenings. Seeing NGE Blu-rays on store shelves would have certainly made me happy, but I don't know if that would really increase awareness to people outside of anime fandom anyway.
Eva fans know Netflix has Eva.
Anime fans in the U.S. must know by now that Netflix has Eva.
Would Funimation have really done better? I would have certainly appreciated their physical releases, but I don't know if that would have actually increased the viewership of a niche genre. If anything, it being on Netflix might actually make it easier for me to convince some of my film peers to see it despite their lack of fandom in Japanese animation, since it would be "free" with the Netflix they already have.