No — not a multiplex but the screen on your desk.
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. 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.
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.
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. 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…
But wait, there’s more:
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.
My mother had a saying “It never rains but it pours”, and she was right. Hot on the heels of the Netflix announcement comes a similar initiative — Joost — from the guys who founded Skype. According to this report,
AMSTERDAM, Netherlands – The co-founders of the Internet telephone service Skype unveiled the brand name and details of their latest project Tuesday: a new Internet-based television service called Joost.
Entrepreneurs Niklas Zennstrom and Janus Friis, who sold Skype for $2.6 billion to eBay Inc. in 2005, said the new project combines aspects of file-sharing software and regular broadcast television.
Joost – pronounced “juiced” – may eventually try to move onto television sets, but it will initially focus on making it easier and more fun to watch TV on a computer.
Joost, like Skype, requires users to download free software. In this case, the program will help them browse the Internet for channels and clips they’re interested in, rather than make phone calls.
“We’re currently in a test phase with a limited ‘beta’ release, so we have content matching our base,” Chief Executive Fredrik de Wahl said in a telephone interview. “Comedy, sports, music, documentaries.”
He said the company has deals with Warner Music, “Bridezillas” producer September Films and “Big Brother” creator Endemol NV, among others, but plans to make content deals globally as the service grows…