LOS GATOS, Calif., Jan. 16 /PRNewswire-FirstCall/ -- Netflix, Inc.
(Nasdaq: NFLX), the world's largest online movie rental service, today
introduced a new feature that allows people to immediately watch movies and
television series on their personal computers and said it will make the new
feature available to its subscribers in a phased roll-out over the next six
The introduction marks an important enhancement to the Netflix service.
Subscribers will continue to receive DVDs by mail from the company's
market- leading catalog of over 70,000 titles and will have the additional
option of instantly watching about 1,000 movies and TV series on their PCs.
The new feature will be included in subscribers' monthly membership plans
at no additional cost, and the company said its phased roll-out is meant to
ensure that subscribers have a great initial experience with the feature.
"We named our company Netflix in 1998 because we believed
Internet-based movie rental represented the future, first as a means of
improving service and selection, and then as a means of movie delivery,"
said Reed Hastings, the company's chief executive officer. "While
mainstream consumer adoption of online movie watching will take a number of
years due to content and technology hurdles, the time is right for Netflix
to take the first step.
"Over the coming years we'll expand our selection of films, and we'll
work to get to every Internet-connected screen, from cell phones to PCs to
plasma screens. The PC screen is the best Internet-connected screen today,
so we are starting there."
Netflix said the introduction of immediate viewing is part of its plan
to lead movie rental in total by adding electronic delivery to its existing
DVD delivery platform. Netflix is specifically focusing on the rental
segment of electronic delivery, distinct from the download-to-own market
and advertising- supported electronic delivery.
The new immediate viewing feature differs from current services in that
it does not require the often lengthy downloading of a large video file.
The Netflix feature uses real-time playback technology that allows video to
be viewed at virtually the same time it is being delivered to a user's
computer. Following a one-time, under-60-second installation of a simple
browser applet, most subscribers' movie selections will begin playing in
their Web browser in as little as 10 to 15 seconds. Movies can be paused
and a position bar gives viewers the ability to immediately jump to any
point in the movie. In all, the instant watching feature requires only
Internet connectivity with a minimum of one megabit per second of
bandwidth. The more bandwidth a consumer has, the higher quality the video
displayed, ranging from the quality of current Netflix previews to DVD
quality with a three-megabit-per-second connection.
Initially, the new feature will offer about 1,000 titles and its
selection will expand over time as licensing for electronically delivered
movie rentals widens. The number of titles available at introduction
roughly mirrors the number of DVD titles Netflix carried when its
subscription service was launched in 1999. In seven years, that DVD catalog
has grown to over 70,000. Most of the major and many independent studios
are supporting the introduction of the new feature, including NBC
Universal, Sony Pictures, Metro-Goldwyn- Mayer Studios, 20th Century Fox,
Paramount Pictures, Warner Bros., New Line Cinema and Lionsgate.
In addition, content is being provided by A&E Television Networks,
Anime Network, Allumination FilmWorks, BBC Worldwide, Cinema Libre Studios,
Egami Media, Film Movement, Hart Sharp Video, The Independent Film Channel,
Magnolia Pictures, New Video Group, New Yorker Films, Palm Pictures,
Seventh Art , Silvernitrate Entertainment, Starz Digital, ThinkFilm, Video
Action Sports, WMG Productions and Wolfe Video, among others.
The new feature will feel familiar to Netflix subscribers. Once it is
made available to them as part of the phased roll-out, members will access
instant movie watching by clicking on a "Watch Now" tab on their home page.
As with the Netflix DVD catalog, subscribers can browse movies available
for immediate viewing by title, genre or star rating. Personalized
recommendations, based on an individual's historical preferences, will also
appear at the top of the member's "Watch Now" page.
Netflix said it expects to make the new feature available to all
Netflix subscribers by the end of June. The hours available for instant
watching will vary based on subscribers' monthly plans. For example,
subscribers on the entry-level $5.99 plan will have six hours of online
movie watching per month and subscribers on Netflix's most popular plan,
$17.99 for unlimited DVD rental and three discs out at a time, will have 18
hours of online movie watching per month.
Netflix, Inc. is the world's largest online movie rental service,
providing more than five million subscribers access to over 70,000 DVD
titles. The company offers a variety of subscription plans, starting at
$5.99 a month. There are no due dates, no late fees and no shipping fees.
DVDs are delivered for free by the USPS from regional shipping centers
located throughout the United States. Netflix can reach more than 90
percent of its subscribers with generally one business-day delivery.
Netflix offers personalized movie recommendations to its members and has
more than one billion movie ratings. Netflix also allows members to share
and recommend movies to one another through its Friends(SM) feature. For
more information, visit www.netflix.com.
SOURCE Netflix, Inc.