Relativity Media, the studio that brought recent films such as “Robin Hood,” “Get Him to the Greek” and “Grown Ups” to theaters, has made an agreement with Netflix to distribute titles during the “pay TV window,” the time during which studios have usually disallowed Netflix streaming of certain titles in favor of agreements with premium pay channels.
Netflix frequently adds new films to their streaming lineup. Although there never seem to be enough in HD, below are several titles worth checking out. It should be noted that while some titles listed on the Netflix website do not indicate they stream in HD, we checked them out and have discovered that indeed they do. The scrollable “New Arrivals” tab within the Netflix streaming interface on your TV seems to be more accurate in terms of what is available in high-definition.
Former Blu-ray rival Toshiba has officially announced availability of two reasonably priced Blu-ray Disc players. The BDX2500 ($179.99) and BDX2700 ($249.99) include Wi-Fi, 7.1 channel audio, 24 frames-per-second, and compatibility with Netflix and Blockbuster On Demand.
Netflix frequently adds new HD titles to stream to HDTVs and PCs. Several new titles now available to stream to your HDTV include Ken Burns’ The National Parks: America’s Best Idea, Prison Break: Seasons 1, 2, 3, and 4, and Roman Polanski’s three-time Oscar winning film The Pianist (2002).
Microsoft PlayReady and Protected Interoperable File Format (PIFF) have become the chosen formats for Netflix streaming content, according to a Microsoft announcement today. The agreement makes PlayReady the primary content protection technology for new Netflix supported Internet TVs, home theater systems, Blu-ray Disc Players, game consoles and other electronic devices.
Netflix has added a bunch of new titles to watch in HD on your PC or Mac, as well as adding a page to view the available titles. The service requires your PC have Silverlight 3 installed, a screen resolution of at least 800 pixels wide, and sufficient bandwidth to handle the high resolution files (at least 5Mbps suggested).
Netflix is apparently streaming more than half of all “Play-ready” HD titles to Macs and PCs, that according to a Netflix representative who spoke with HackingNetflix. But finding that “half” of HD titles available to stream in high-definition isn’t exactly easy.
As well as adding titles from Universal to their library, Netflix has also announced a distribution deal with Twentieth Century Fox. The agreement covers digital and disc media formats for both television shows and motion pictures. Instant streaming for Fox TV shows, with some available as entire seasons, is a first for Netflix.
Netflix has added more Universal titles to its DVD, Blu-ray and streaming library, as well as signing a distribution agreement with the studio that firms up a delay window for new releases. The 28-day window will allow Universal to maximize their sales of discs and digital downloads during that time.
Terrific news for some mobile users on the Netflix front: iPhone and Nintendo DS users may have to wait a while, but Netflix chief Reed Hastings and staff have already sent out surveys to gauge what consumers desire when it comes to mobile use of the streaming service. According to HackingNetflix.com, the company is gathering user interest to determine the possibility of an iPhone app (and Nintendo DS interface) with 30 second load times, the ability to fast-forward/rewind and pause the stream, and basically get all the functions and features of Netflix Instant Watch without advertisements similar to the Xbox, PS3 and Wii versions of the streaming service.
[Editor’s Note: For a more recent Netflix vs. Blockbuster article, read this.]
Why is Netflix winning the movie rental race? We looked at base plans for both Blockbuster and Netflix — one a brick and mortar movie rental giant with a few thousand stores and kiosks opening nationwide, and the other a movie-by-mail enterprise which has taken the market by storm. First let’s look at what they are offering.
Arguably the best shootout in film history, Michael Mann’s Heat looks fantastic in HD and is now available streaming on-demand from Netflix. Al Pacino plays a cop hot on the trail of a bank robber played by Robert De Niro. This film is close to 3 hours and worth every minute of it. (1995, R)
Netflix has announced the addition of 300 titles from several independent film distributers including The Criterion Collection, Gravitas Ventures, Kino Lorber, Music Box Films, Oscilloscope Laboratories and Regent Releasing. If the titles aren’t available for streaming now, Netflix says they will be available early next year. (Next year? Your guess is as good as mine.) However, some deals with the distributors include new releases as they become available while under contract.
Nintendo Wii owners will be able to access unlimited streaming media from Netflix this spring. Users will access video-on-demand content (aka, Netflix’s ever-expanding library) the same way that PlayStation 3 owners currently do: by disc. The big caveat for Wii owners is that, though they access the service via a broadband connection much like PS3 and Xbox owners, the Wii itself does not support high-definition video, topping out at 480 scanlines for a good ol’ standard-def experience. Wii owners will not be able to play back the HD content from Netflix, but they will have access to it for the bare minimum subscription that Netflix requires with no extra charge, unlike Xbox 360 owners who pay a hefty $50-a-year to access what PS3 users generally get for free.
Yes it’s CES time for just about every major newspaper and tech-journal, but one announcement of importance this week hasn’t come from there, but directly from Warner Bros., which has announced it’s no longer going to immediately provide new releases to Netflix on their rental-ready street date. Instead, Warners is hoping to set a trend for other studios and content producers to follow by creating a sell-through only window for these new disc releases.
The PlayStation 3 presents itself as many things… a highly advanced gaming device, a top-notch (reference quality) Blu-ray player, and an Internet enabled pathway to a world of downloadable games, movies, television and BD-Live enabled content. Most everything I’ve tapped into thus far has either met or exceeded my expectations for the PS3 Slim; however, there’s always those items that aren’t so great (the PS3’s web-browser is terrible, with limited access to some of the most popular sites… yes, you can get your web-enabled email, but what about access to Hulu? No dice! Might as well be living behind a firewall in China).
Good news for Netflix customers and Sony Bravia HDTV owners. Netflix will now stream to Sony BRAVIA Internet Video-capable HDTVs, previous BRAVIA models compatible with Sony’s BRAVIA Internet video link module, and the Sony Network Blu-ray Disc Player.
Just this week Netflix made available a special disc that allows its streaming movie service on Playstation 3 consoles. Once you get the disc (and it arrives usually next day after ordering), you insert the disc into the Playstation 3 to get an activation code. You then log-in to your Netflix account online and enter the code.
Netflix is officially ready to roll on Playstation 3 systems, and the partners are offering a free two-week trial which includes both home delivery and streaming services. But two weeks seems a bit stingy don’t you think? I guess you don’t gain any advantage being a PSN member, as this is the same offer any new Netflix member gets.
Love the ability of Netflix and other DVD rental services to have that new flick available from the moment it’s released for sale? Well, those days might be over, very soon. As the Los Angeles Times reports this morning, the major studios, suffering from a cratering of DVD sales due to the format’s saturation as well as the success of rental delivery services like Netflix, new threats from DVD-kiosk upstarts Redbox, and the lingering recession, are now fighting back against consumer disinterest by threatening to withhold new releases from the rental market.