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Netflix Unleashes its Movie Streaming

Netflix is removing the limits from its online movie streaming service — just one day before Apple is expected to announce its own movie rentals. Netflix will now allow its seven million subscribers to watch as many hours as they want from a library of 6,000 instantly available films online. Previously, customers could only watch up to 17 hours online, depending on which subscription plan they had.

In addition to stealing some of the thunder away from Apple’s widely expected movie rental announcement at Macworld tomorrow, the move augments Netflix’s recent partnership with LG for a TV set-top box, which isn’t just a shot at Apple TV, but one at Vudu, TakeTV, Amazon and all the other players jumping into the increasingly crowded set-top field. With 6,000 titles available now, that number is bound to increase by the time the LG box launches.

Most importantly, however, Netflix’s removal of online limits is the first step to weaning the DVD-by-mail service provider off physical products and postage. It means fewer shipment centers and fewer fulfillment issues, and Netflix may even manage to sidestep the 17-cent- per-floppy-envelope surcharge the postage service was reportedly thinking of charging them. Or at least the hassle of redesigning the red envelope.

Obviously there would still be costs associated with bandwidth and re-licensing its library, for which Netflix would most likely have to raise subscription fees to compensate. But like any good salesperson, Netflix can use the lower price to entice people now, get them hooked and then jack up the rates. And it’s not like people are going to instantly ditch their mail service.

With Apple’s movie rentals rumored to be $3.99 a pop, it will be interesting to see how the per-movie vs. subscription models stack up.

7 Responses to “Netflix Unleashes its Movie Streaming”

  1. I can’t wait till tomorrow. It will be like Christmas Day all over again.

    My bets are on a new Apple TV that has a broadband deal with AT&T Digital Cable for an IPTV like no other and I’m also expecting a pro version of iWeb that will have some content management tools for podcasting.

    Then my stocking will be stuffed with a new MacBook Pro that is faster than any other laptop with a six month exclusive on the chip from Intel.

  2. Matt Hendry

    If Apple licensed Fairpay to 3rd parties all the Apple users would have nothing to complain about .You can be sure that Apple has Fairplay on its Pay Per View time bombed movie rentals tomorrow so its not like they cant do it technically its just a business decision to protect the iTunes model .

    And pay per view downloaded DRMed time bombed rentals are already old hat .On demand Subscrption or Advertising based Streaming is where they should be headed .For downloads people use Bittorrent ;).

    Joost has DRM and a client for the Mac so why cant Netflix .

    Maybe it does have something to do with Reed Hastings being on the Microsoft Board, but I think that Netflix would like the proposition of working on as many platforms as possible .