updated 06:25 pm EST, Tue January 16, 2007
Netflix to stream video
Faced with an increasingly competitive digital movie market, Netflix has announced its intentions to start direct Internet delivery that will compete with Apple's iTunes Music Store. Rather than offer paid downloads like Amazon's Unbox or the Xbox Live Video Marketplace, existing Netflix subscribers will be able to stream certain videos for free, according to Electronista. Next to the standard "Add" buttons will be "Play," which will start a feature as soon as it finishes buffering in the custom Netflix viewer software. Roughly 1,000 movies and television shows are expected to be offered when the service launches, coming from companies such as NBC, Sony, 20th Century Fox and Warner Brothers. While the service will require a Windows PC with Internet Explorer installed, Netflix hopes to expand to other platforms -- possibly the Mac -- as time progresses.
The new streaming service will likely start as a slow deployment over the next six months, with the amount of video accessible determined by customers' subscription levels. A standard $18 subscription will provide 18 hours of video per month; correspondingly, cheaper plans will shrink hours while expensive plans will increase video playback time. The service will only count time actually viewed from videos, enabling users to stop a clip partway through enduring a loss of time for the entire video.