Netflix to start small rollout of streaming TV shows and movies; Windows-only, no Mac OS X, no iPods

“Netflix Inc. will start showing movies and TV episodes over the Internet this week, providing its subscribers with more instant gratification as the DVD-by-mail service prepares for a looming technology shift threatening its survival,” Michael Liedtke reports for The Associated Press.

“The Los Gatos-based company plans to unveil the new ‘Watch Now’ feature Tuesday, but only a small number of its more than 6 million subscribers will get immediate access to the service, which is being offered at no additional charge,” Liedtke reports. “Netflix expects to introduce the instant viewing system to about 250,000 more subscribers each week through June to ensure its computers can cope with the increased demand.”

“After accepting a computer applet that takes less than a minute to install, subscribers will be able to watch anywhere from six hours to 48 hours of material per month on an Internet streaming service that is supposed to prevent piracy,” Liedtke reports. “The allotted viewing time will be tied to how much customers already pay for their DVD rentals. Under Netflix’s most popular $17.99 monthly package, subscribers will receive 18 hours of Internet viewing time.”

Liedtke reports, “The company has budgeted about $40 million this year to expand its data centers and cover the licensing fees for the roughly 1,000 movies and TV shows that will be initially available for online delivery. Netflix’s DVD library, by comparison, spans more than 70,000 titles, one of the main reasons why the mail is expected to remain the preferred delivery option for most subscribers.”

Liedtke reports, “Another major drawback: the instant viewing system only works on personal computers and laptops equipped with a high-speed Internet connection and Microsoft Corp.’s Windows operating system. That means the movies can’t be watched on cell phones, TVs or video iPods, let alone computers that run on Apple Inc.’s operating system.”

“Online movie delivery already is available through services like CinemaNow, MovieFlix, Movielink, Vongo and Amazon.com Inc.’s recently launched Unbox. Apple Inc. also is emerging as major player, with hundreds of movies and TV shows on sale at its iTunes store and a new device that promises to transport media from a computer to a TV screen,” Liedtke reports.

Full article here.
Imagining a more limited service would be quite difficult.

39 Comments

  1. For a limited service, an unlimited computer, Apple. If the software only runs in windows, you just run a parrallels windows session or boot up your mac in windows with Boot camp, so Netflix and windows users are limited, Apple does not. God, I love to have no limits…

  2. Yes, obviously this service falls down in terms of its compatibility with Macs and other devices, not to mention its limited scope – but a rental service still seems like a better model for movie distribution than iTunes, imo. Apple got it so right with music (people want to own it); I just can’t fathom why they don’t see that the opposite is true for movies (for the majority of people)…

  3. Tell me, is someone going to sue Netflix for this intentional “locking in” of their service? That ignorant plaintiff suing Apple because songs downloaded from iTunes won’t play on other devices got away with THAT piece of inanity. Can’t one of us take Netflix on?

  4. Who cares. As long as Apple doesn’t put TV shows and Movies on the Swiss ITMS the whole thing is a moot point for me. That’s also why I never recommend that people waste their money on an 80 GB iPod, and I have probably introduced 25 people to Apple products over the last 18 months.

  5. I absolutely adore Netflix, and I’m thrilled that somebody is offering a subscription-based movie delivery system over the internet (I do not want to own movies).

    However, man does that blow about no Mac support. But it’s early yet.

  6. sampson: Seems that way… It’s good to be the king. – Bill n Co.
    RC: You read my mind.

    Rental or purchase – If there is no way to view the content on a TV, then it ALL has little appeal.

    “Good luck with that.”
    – RC

  7. I tried Netflix — now I hate Netflix…throttling is only one reason why to leave..

    I now have Blockbuster All Access — I rent three online, I return them to store, I pick up three more and instantly, my que is updated and I am sent another 3 and with two days, I can end up with 6 movies..and as a bonus, every week I get a separate free rental…this applies to any rentral — games, DVD’s, blueray DVD, HD-DVD’s….all for 17.99

    Netflix, will die.

  8. > Imagining a more limited service would be quite difficult.

    How about Microsoft’s service that works only on Zunes. Oh, I forgot. That capability does not exist yet…

    I think it’s smart for NetFlix to start experimenting with a totally online service. For music, it made sense to sell the songs instead of doing a “rental” scheme. However, unlike music, people tend to rent movies instead of owning them. I rarely watch the same movie more than once, so why own it? I like the monthly flat-fee systems like NetFlix the best. With the new capability of having these Apple TV devices out there, Apple should introduce its own rental product to complement its existing movie sales.

  9. I’m hoping that Apple announces a rental/subscription movie service for iTunes along with more studio partners and the Multi-touch widescreen iPod by the end of this year.

    For any movie I want as apart of my collection, it’s worthless to purchase it through the iTunes store. However I’d LOVE to rent and view streaming movies for like $5. I’d probably become addicted.

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