Netflix announced today that its streaming service will be embedded directly into broadband-enabled LG HDTVs coming out this spring. This marks the first time that streaming Netflix content to a television set won’t require an external box like the Roku.
While LG is the first television partner for Netflix it isn’t the first manufacturer to offer broadband-connected TVs. Panasonic’s Viera TVs have YouTube video capabilities and Amazon’s Video on Demand streaming service is available on Sony Bravia Internet Link sets.
Now imagine when all those TVs start offering all those video services (and more!). You could watch new release content through a la carte rental, courtesy of Amazon; library titles through your Netflix subscription; and your favorite web video through YouTube — all with the push of a button on your remote (I pity the UI designers tasked with making all that content navigable and searchable).
As Om noted over at GigaOM, this ain’t great news for burgeoning set-top box makers. Broadband-connected TVs don’t spell immediate doom for set-top box manufacturers like Roku and Apple TV (people still have to adopt these new types of sets) — but the writing has got to be on the wall. And as I wrote earlier, the wildcard in this scenario is cable and telcos. They stand to lose big if you trade in your pricey subscription to watch video delivered over the web. Will bandwidth caps and metered access rain on this new TV-set parade?