Netflix Tries An 'Unlimited' Strategy For Movie Downloads

from the all-you-can-eat-with-6'-forks dept

Obviously trying to deflate a possible Apple announcement about movie rentals, Netflix has announced a service for unlimited movie downloads that lets its customers stream as many shows as they can watch to their PCs. Netflix has been testing this ‘unlimited’ offering for a few months with its new subscribers — and it’s not exactly surprising that Netflix would have to offer an all-you-can-eat plan at some point, given its existing DVD-based service plans. But Netflix is still playing with the term ‘unlimited’ in that the downloaded movies are streaming, so presumably, unlimited actually means something more like “up to 744 hours of video” in a month with 31 days (if you don’t stop to sleep or eat).

More interestingly, though, is that this announcement places Netflix firmly in the movie downloads business. Mailing DVDs will clearly remain part of Netflix for quite some time due to the lack of broadband penetration for many US customers, but the increasing costs of shipping physical media will likely doom that business. So now the questions of how to handle the distribution of digital data will really become a mainstream issue — and a serious business test for Netflix. Will the delivery of streaming movies be hampered by the likes of Comcast and ISPs who compete with their own movie downloading services? Does the iTunes pay-per-title model make more sense than a subscription plan? Netflix faces a number of large competitors, as well as pirating consumers. On the upside, however, there is also potential to expand internationally if Netflix doesn’t rely on the USPS.

Netflix is trying a few different tactics to support downloading, but its real threats may be the copyright holders who could giveth and taketh away the shows and movies. With around 6,000 titles available for streaming from Netflix, that’s only around a year of straight watching if you actually wanted to watch everything — and didn’t need to sleep.

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Companies: apple, netflix

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Comments on “Netflix Tries An 'Unlimited' Strategy For Movie Downloads”

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20 Comments
david says:

Big Fan

I’ve been a Netflix user for a while and I’m using their streaming service more and more. I especially like it when I’m in a hotel especially as Marriott is beginning to install connections that let you plug your laptop into their large flatscreen TVs. My worry is that the hotels will not like the competition with their own pay per view services.

4-80-sicks says:

Re: Re: but first they should have . . .

I agree. I’ve been a Netflix member for a good while and use Linux so I am not able to use this feature. Really wish they would open it up. I have the bandwidth, but don’t want to install windows just to watch a few movies here and there.

They probably don’t see the value. *If* this service takes off, and *if* Linux penetrates the desktop market enough, maybe they’ll do it then. I’d give it six years minimum, which kinda sucks a lot.

There’s also the issue of filetype. Netflix probably does not want to license an mpeg-2 decoder to include in their software so Linux users can use it, or bother working with a Free codec. A real shame for everybody except Microsoft.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: No thanks

You will find that its fairly easy to connect your computer to your TV. I’ve been doing it since i first got a computer.
Windows is already set up to handle dual screens right out the box too, so theres no difficulty with software etc.

hell i suppose you could even buy a cheap computer to sit by your tv so that you dont have to bother moving the one you have already.

Killer_Tofu (profile) says:

Re #11

Not only can you hook your PC to your TV as post #12 suggested.
But what kind of speakers do you use?
The speakers hooked up to me PC are just as good as the ones hooked up to my TV.
The sound out of both is completely clear and awesome.
Although they are both 5.1 and I have yet to jump to 7.1 or 9.1 I do not really care. 5.1 suits everything I could need.
Sorry to hear that your PC speakers suck so bad. You can get a nice 5.1 system for cheap. Try checking Newegg or something.

James says:

Good start

Hiccups aside.. (and while I have no practical experience with NetFlix) this is good to see.

Assuming that bandwidth is no issue, this could seem to work fairly well. Why buy a DVD, I can stream it anytime I want.. and how many times do you watch a movie after the first time anyways? (Yes, I’ll concede a few rare favorites)

Good job NetFlix and if there’s anyway for me to stream from my PC through my TV using my XBOX 360 as a media extender I’ll become a subscriber.

4-80-sicks says:

Echoing connect a computer to your “real” TV!

Video card to AUX on the TV, soundcard to stereo receiver. It just makes sense when so much content lives on the computer these days. And if you think 22″ is a pitifully small screen, I’m sure you can afford a small HTPC. You can also replace your CD and DVD players with this.

If you don’t have content on your computer it’s another story I guess, but as computers get more powerful this will become more popular.

I’ve ripped a lot of my CDs to my computer, when I finish that the DVDs are next, and eventually a coffee table touchscreen will be installed, and jukebox software to tie it all together. No more dealing with scratched discs or keeping hundreds of media cases on a shelf and organized. (I’ll only have to worry about hard drive crashes 🙂 Back up your stuff!)

SrgaRolow says:

NetFlix and the watch now bit!

Well I just got Netflix and really did want to try out the watch now Movie thing. Only to findit does not work with my
Computer running Vista? It starts ok, looks like it is going to play the Movie. Then Zip..It stops and that is it….I have tryed about 10 times and get the same thing…. Lookslike Net Flix is going to go.. Block buster hearI came….Any one got any help for meon this????
dddd44@hotmail.com Thanks..
Dan

Jake says:

Netflix's "Unlimited Online Viewing" isn't Entirel

Netflix’s recent move to provide ‘unlimited’ online viewing would have been the coolest thing ever—if it weren’t a lie and a rip off.

That’s right. After you watch your 17 hours of seamless streaming movies, it starts crashing your browser for you. So some folks are not actually GETTING the unlimited hours; false advertisement.

Officially, they’re getting unlimited, technically however, Netflix actually takes measures to prevent it.

I have tracked this since the unlimited thing BEGAN.

Consistently, and every month, after 17 hrs of watching seamlessly… it won’t allow any more watching—it crashes browsers to actively prevent users from the promised ‘Unlimited’.

People should be outraged. Netflix was fine before this, after this, I can’t trust them anymore.

Sarah says:

Love Netlix streaming to my HDTV via my XBox 360

I love Netflix! Finally someone is taking advantage of modern technology! No more sending packages back and forth. No more waiting for videos I want to see NOW.

I simply hook up my Xbox 360 and get movies instantly. The XBox streams them directly to my HDTV. No complicated setups, nothing. Just hook the 360 to the internet and you are ready to start watching unlimited movies when YOU want to.

The future is here and it’s name is NETFLIX!!

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