updated 12:05 pm EDT, Tue April 22, 2008
Netflix on More Media Hubs
Netflix is cooperating with four other device makers beyond LG to develop network set-top boxes, the company has said while discussing its latest financial results. The movie rental agency had originally announced just its LG partnership in January but now says that three "major" companies are also developing media hubs that will bring the Netflix Internet movie streaming service to HDTVs. A smaller fourth company is also involved.
The company isn't discussing names but notes that the larger companies are most likely to release their network devices in the last quarter of the year, in time for holiday shopping; the newcomer is expected to launch its device "sooner" but hasn't been given a more specific timeframe for its release.
All of the hubs are expected to become virtual extensions of the Watch Instantly feature on Netflix' website. The service lets subscribers to all but the most basic Netflix plan watch any of approximately 6,000 movies online regardless of physical movie copies rented during a given month. At present, the format uses a copy protected stream that prevents users from easily ripping and saving permanent copies of titles.
The Netflix disclosure creates one of the few multi-platform video download services available and steps up pressure on competitors such as Apple and Vudu, who have to date relied on proprietary stores and network-attached devices to provide content. Both also typically prefer on-demand rentals and purchases over subscriptions.