Netflix Won’t Stream 1080p in 2010, But What About Roku?

Netfix plans to start streaming some of its VOD content in 1080p later this year, doesn’t plan to support 1080p streaming in 2010, according to a CNET report, which was updated after the company reportedly said its own road map had incorrectly identified 1080p streaming as a goal for this year. Timing, catalog size and other details of the plan aren’t public yet, and a company spokesperson told us that he couldn’t comment on any specifics. Two weeks ago, though, the company told us that it is currently streaming about 1000 titles in 720p. That’s a small percentage of the total amount of content available for streaming.

The eventual migration to 1080p isn’t too surprising. YouTube launched support for 1080p streaming at our NewTeeVee Live conference last fall, and Microsoft rolled out 1080p streaming for its Xbox Live service late last year as well. In fact, the Xbox could be one of the first devices to bring Netflix in 1080p to the TV set in the living room. Microsoft’s game console has been supporting Netflix streaming for more than a year now.

However, the move puts pressure on Roku, whose set-top boxes used to be one of the only ways to access Netflix streaming without the help of a PC. None of the Roku boxes currently available for sale support 1080p. Adding the capability to play back full-scale HD content could significantly raise the price point of the company’s devices, which currently sell for $80 to $130, depending on the configuration of the device. Chip sets capable of playing back 1080p could push the price of a Roku box closer to $200, but Roku recently announced that it plans to actually lower the price of its hardware to make it more attractive to consumers. We have reached out for Roku to comment, but haven’t heard back yet.

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