Netflix Streams Movies... At No Extra Cost

from the well,-they-fixed-the-costly-part dept

In 2004, everyone was buzzing about how Netflix was going to begin experimenting with movie downloads, even though it seemed like a cumbersome process to convince Hollywood studios to license their movies. A year later, in fact, Netflix told the world that they had put the plan on hold, saying that it was too difficult to work with the movie studios who kept demanding stronger copy protection. Apparently, though, Netflix quietly kept up the work in the background, and are now beginning to roll out an option for some users to immediately stream a small selection of movies. It's streaming, not downloading, which probably helps deal with some of the industry's copy protection worries. It's also using Microsoft's copy protection, which limits what kind of setup you need to have to watch the content (and you'll only be able to watch it on a PC for now). While the company is touting that it's really quick to install the necessary software, the New York Times reporter who tried it found that the install didn't work properly due to conflicts involving Microsoft's DRM technology (surprise, surprise). All in all, it doesn't sound like it's really solved the technical hurdles all of the other poorly implemented movie download sites face -- but it does have one big advantage over all of those sites: no additional fees. If you're a Netflix subscriber, you get a certain allotment of hours which you can stream to your computer at no additional charge. That, alone, may be the point that saves this offering from going completely nowhere. However, the technical limitations are likely to keep the market fairly small for quite some time.


Reader Comments (rss)

(Flattened / Threaded)

  1.  
    identicon
    GauntletWizard, Jan 16th, 2007 @ 1:51am

    Fun fun

    As there exist several utilities now (SDP Downloader, VLC) to save Microsoft streams, this is a perfect way to get unencrypted AVI files suitable for burning to DVD or sharing. Thanks, netflix!

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  2.  
    identicon
    Bruin, Jan 16th, 2007 @ 2:53am

    Re: Fun fun

    Is this much different than ripping the DVD once it arrives in the customer's mailbox? Other than being able to make perfect clones of the DVD & it being easier than trying to save streaming video.

     

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  3.  
    identicon
    goblin, Jan 16th, 2007 @ 3:19am

    Good News ;-))

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    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  4.  
    identicon
    mikey, Jan 16th, 2007 @ 3:35am

    what netflix should prolly do..

    (or some content provider for that matter) is give a false sense of security to the entertainment industry. Like, say Netflix releases this stream or whatever they decide to do. They could give it some insanely easy hurdle to overcome so people could still "copy" it without much effort. This would basically beat the MPAA at their own game of copy protection sillyness.

    What difference would it really make anyway? I mean if I'm copying a movie and paying for a service, is it still stealing? Or maybe a better question to ask is how would you steal from a service that you're paying for?? What are they even worried about?

     

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  5.  
    identicon
    Ken, Jan 16th, 2007 @ 3:36am

    Re: Good News ;-))

    You sir are a fucking idiot!!! Get off the boards!

    BUMP!!!!

     

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  6.  
    identicon
    Louis, Jan 16th, 2007 @ 4:26am

    Streaming

    TV Networks should stream their shows on the Net too. You hear that Sky-one? Why do I have to live in the UK to to watch Stargate in English damnit.

     

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  7.  
    identicon
    fritzbrown, Jan 16th, 2007 @ 4:53am

    Re: what netflix should prolly do..

    Hey mikey, you're paying to view the movie not copy it. So, yes it is stealing.

    Why don't you just admit that you torrent movies, despite it being wrong, instead of trying to justify it with lame arguments. I have already crossed that moral line, won't you join me?

     

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  8.  
    identicon
    The infamous Joe, Jan 16th, 2007 @ 4:59am

    Theft of nothing.

    It's *not* stealing. Stealing implies that you have taken something from someone-- but you are going to return their DvD, safe and sound. It's copyright infringement, sure, but *not* theft.

    The reason you should all care is because theft is a criminal offense, and copyright infringement is a civil one.

    Come back across that moral line, to my side, full of correct terminology.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  9.  
    identicon
    greg, Jan 16th, 2007 @ 5:06am

    I rather buy a Netflix TV box than a Apple TV Box.
    Maybe I need to build one myself.

     

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  10.  
    identicon
    curious one, Jan 16th, 2007 @ 5:12am

    response

    do you think insects are aware of thier existance?

     

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  11.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Jan 16th, 2007 @ 5:14am

    "...and you'll only be able to watch it on a PC for now..."

    That's just not true. Even without Media Center all you need is an S-Video connection on your video card and you can watch whatever you like on an older RCA TV.

    I do that all the time.

     

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  12.  
    identicon
    Araemo, Jan 16th, 2007 @ 5:23am

    Re: Fun fun

    VLC at least won't do encrypted microsoft streams, only the older ones that weren't encrypted, and relied on the player to 'prevent' you from saving them. There have been ways to get at those streams for years and years.. (Hint: You just download it with a browser that doesn't support WMP. ;P However, finding the URL could sometimes be the challenge.)

     

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  13.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Jan 16th, 2007 @ 5:46am

    Rush to go no where

    Not even ready and wont be ready unitill June of 2007. More Info

     

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  14.  
    identicon
    Brad Waddell, Jan 16th, 2007 @ 6:21am

    Vongo

    I think Vongo has a better model than Netflix - they figured out that they could take all of the 2500 movies licensed to Starz TV networks and make them available for download to any device that could ensure they would time out when their contract for showing that movie ended - laptops, portables, cell phones, whatever. I think this will be what people want, and at less than $10 a month, it's a screaming deal.

     

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  15.  
    identicon
    Bumbling old fool, Jan 16th, 2007 @ 6:32am

    Re: S-Video

    You're still watching it on your computer. You've just replaced your high resolution monitor with a low resulotion tv.

    To most folks, thats not actually an improvement.

     

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  16.  
    identicon
    The infamous Joe, Jan 16th, 2007 @ 6:39am

    Re: Vongo

    Vongo's selection leaves much to be desired, and at the same price I get get netflicks or Blockbuster and record the DvDs... and watch them again later.

    I got a free month subscription to Vongo with my computer-- but after browsing the selection, I decided it wasn't worth my time.

    Vongo has the right idea, but doesn't give enough freedom with the medium-- which of course is the root problem with most every form of digital media services these days.

     

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  17.  
    icon
    chris (profile), Jan 16th, 2007 @ 6:50am

    i hope someone gets it right

    it would be nice to get access to movies when they come out instead of having to go thru the typical video store logistical hurdles.

    right now, i rent movies from blockbuster online. they give you three movies at a time, plus one coupon per week to use at the video store. also, they let you take the discs that you get thru the mail in to the store to swap for a free rental. in my opinion, it's the best system available, but it's not perfect.

    i can use the online system to search for older films and TV series that i either can't find/don't bother to look for at the video store and i go to the store for new releases or changes in plans (rainy day kids movies and the like). the problem with new releases is that the really new ones are tough to get a hold of the first couple of weeks after they drop, be that online or in the video store.

    it would be nice to just stream/download the really new stuff, go to the store for changes of plans, and use the queue system for everything else.

    i am not talking about buying or otherwise obtaining the film, i just want to watch it and be done, like i do with 85% of the movies that i rent.

    there are a handful that are good enough to obtain copies of (ripped, downloaded, or purchased from the used/bargain bin) and only the really great ones (LOTR, POTC, etc.) truly justify the purchase of a retail DVD or box set.

     

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  18.  
    identicon
    zack, Jan 16th, 2007 @ 7:19am

    sign me up for a Netflix box! http://mammals.wordpress.com

     

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  19.  
    identicon
    Geoff, Jan 16th, 2007 @ 7:39am

    Re:

    By "only on a PC" I think they meant Linux and Mac were out of the question as they don't have WMP.

     

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  20.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Jan 16th, 2007 @ 8:02am

    Re: Fun fun

    It is comments like this that they have to put all that copy protection crap on it!

    If peeps could keep quiet, don't you think it would be less of an epidemic, but when we have peeps throwing it in there face, why should they!

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  21.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Jan 16th, 2007 @ 8:45am

    I wish that one independent studio would release a film in an unprotected AVI format or DVD image behind a paypal shopping cart for a price that covers bandwidth and royalties. As an experiment to see how well it goes over.

     

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  22.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Jan 16th, 2007 @ 10:13am

    Re:

    the DRM tech only works on the PC is what was meant.
    You can't watch it on Mac, Linux, SGI, etc...

     

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  23.  
    identicon
    BK1, Jan 16th, 2007 @ 10:27am

    Tattle-tail copy awareness... NOT protection.

    Instead of protecting the file so that it can only be watched by certain players within certain technologies, why not force the download though a distribution channel that encrypts a private key into the file identifying the user who downloaded it.

    If that file is found on file sharing networks, etc.. the distributor can easily look in the file for who is responsible for illegal distribution of the file.

    That would make it much easier to identify the source of the illegal activity and the distribution channel can identify, press charges against and ban the culprit accordingly.

    This would also allow legit users who have rights to the file to do whatever they want with it on their own technology.

    Keeping the encrypted tags hidden within a huge media file is WAY easier than all the other DRM nonsense that is going on today.

    If your media is lost or stolen, or there is a breach where your ID is being used to download files. This can be reported to the distrubution channel and a new ID can be issued to the individual and now the old ID is flagged as fraud.

     

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  24.  
    identicon
    Wodbury Hills, Jan 16th, 2007 @ 10:29am

    Re: Tattle-tail copy awareness... NOT protection.

    My pee burns...

     

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  25.  
    identicon
    Diabolik, Jan 16th, 2007 @ 10:54am

    Requirements

    This is available now if you have a subscription. At least it is for me.


    Minimum Requirements

    * Computer running Windows XP with Service Pack 2 or higher, or Windows Vista
    * Internet Explorer version 6 or higher
    * Windows Media Player version 9 or higher
    * An active broadband connection to the Internet
    * 1.0 GHz processor
    * 512 MB RAM
    * 3 GB free hard disk drive space

    Recommended in addition to minimum requirements

    * An active broadband Internet connection of at least 1.5 Mbps
    * 1.5 GHz processor
    * 1 GB RAM

     

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  26.  
    identicon
    Ty, Jan 16th, 2007 @ 12:06pm

    Re: Fun fun

    As there exist several utilities now (SDP Downloader, VLC) to save Microsoft streams, this is a perfect way to get unencrypted AVI files suitable for burning to DVD or sharing. Thanks, netflix!

    Isn't it funny that the very first post was how to exploit the streaming process to make copies of the movies?

    I know, I know, it's not stealing, you're forced to do it because DRM has made your life miserable. Yeah right, try to sell me a bridge in Brooklyn too. I agree with fritzbrown #7, just call it what it is, stealing. And to those of you who say it's not stealing, next time you get on your P2P site to download a movie or song, invite a couple of MPAA or RIAA lawyers over and ask for their opinion. I'm not saying it's right that the situation is what it is, but the laws are currently on their side (when they actually sue the right person).

    No matter how you try to polish it, calling what a huge segment of the computer community does with torrents and P2P anything but stealing is euphamistic at best. No matter how cheap or convenient services (like NetFlix) and the industry make it to get movies legitimately, there will still be people like this guy who look for a way to circumvent the system. Why wouldn't you? Anyway, let the "Most people do it because DRM forces them to or prices are just out of control" self-delusions continue.

     

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  27.  
    identicon
    Jon, Jan 16th, 2007 @ 2:19pm

    Re: Tattle-tail copy awareness... NOT protection.

    This is still a technology solution. It would only take a few days at most before the scheme was broken and the watermark stripped out.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  28.  
    identicon
    mikey, Jan 16th, 2007 @ 3:46pm

    Re: Re: what netflix should prolly do..

    It's not that i'm not willing to admit it. I'm more than happy to buy movies if I like them. Copying isn't illegal, it's redistributing copies that is illegal. But the entertainment industry if fighting the copying part, not the redistribution part. By fighting the copying, all they're doing is making things more difficult for legit consumers.

    It's not like they could legitimately complain about a loss if I were to keep a library of my store bought movies and music on my computer, but they don't want that. They'd rather me buy their media and their equipment to use play it, instead of using my own equipment. It's because of that, that I'm inclined to piracy.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  29.  
    identicon
    Kamikyo, Mar 3rd, 2007 @ 7:43pm

    Re: Tattle-tail copy awareness... NOT protection.

    This is making the dangerous assumption that the user's credentials are not compromised.

    This is leaving aside the argument that treating customers as criminals is not a good business model.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  30.  
    identicon
    Mike, Jun 13th, 2007 @ 2:15am

    Just tried it. It works great. Full screen is amazing clarity (looks as good as any Divx I have ever seen) on B&W TV show (Dick Van Dyke). Absolutely no buffing issues with 3 meg connection.

    This is cool and this is the future.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]


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