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.
Netflix and Disney-ABC came to an agreement allowing the movie rental company to distribute popular TV shows “Lost,” “Desperate Housewives,” “Grey’s Anatomy,” and “Legend of the Seeker.” Some of the episodes were already made available on Aug. 1. The remaining episodes will become available in September.
LG has finally made available two HDTVs with Netflix streaming capabilities. The 77-inch 47LH50 LCD and 50-inch 50PS80 plasma are now shipping in the States. Two other models — a 42-inch LCD (42LH50) and 60-inch plasma (60PS80) — should be shipping sometime this summer.
Microsoft has made thousands of movies and TV shows available for Windows users through Netflix streaming services. Now, any PC owner with the Windows Media Center on Vista and Netflix account will be able to view over 12,000 titles.
In an agreement made today with both MTV and South Park Digital Studios, Netflix will now stream content from Nickelodeon and Comedy Central. From MTV, Nickelodeon’s “SpongeBob SquarePants” (Season 3) is now available as streaming content. From South Park Digital Studios, the first nine seasons (139 episodes) of “South Park” are also now available to Netflix subscribers.
Netflix has sent out a survey to its customers inquiring whether or not they would be interested in downloading HBO movies and shows, that according to an article from InformationWeek. The HBO content could be delivered to any Netflix enabled hardware device including the Roku player, TIVO recorder, Xbox 360, and certain Blu-ray disc players from LG and Samsung.
In a partnership announced today LG Electronics will start selling HDTVs that allow streaming content directly from Netflix. The HDTVs, on display this week at CES Las Vegas, are available in four models. They include 42-inch and 47-inch LCDs as well as 50-inch and 60-inch plasma TVs.
While certain Blu-ray players have already enabled streaming content from Netflix, and Xbox Live also offers downloads, this is the first time the internet service has been integrated into a TV set.
Within the last few weeks Netflix streaming HD has become available on the Xbox 360 (through Xbox Live), the LG BD300, and the Samsung BD-P2550 and BD-P2500 Blu-ray Disc players. Today it was announced HD is now available on the TiVo Series3, TiVo HD, and TiVo HD XL DVRs.
Bad news for HD DVD fans with Netflix — as of Dec. 15 the movie rental company will no longer offer HD DVD rentals. Customers found an email message in their inboxes yesterday, informing them of the phase out which had been planned since all last February when all major studios sided with Blu-ray.
Microsoft’s Xbox 360 is one step closer to streaming HD content from Netflix. On November 19, the company will launch the Xbox Experience, which will offer 300 HD titles from the Netflix library. Xbox will be the first partner to offer streaming HD and requires an Xbox Live Gold membership as well as a Netflix subscription.