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Netflix aims for Mac streaming, Blu-ray win

updated 11:20 am EST, Thu January 24, 2008

Netflix Mac Streaming Hope

Netflix hopes that changes in two formats will prove to be catalysts for its business in 2008, the company said late yesterday in its quarterly results call. Following a year in which the company profited by 97 cents per share and added 1.2 million subscribers, the rental firm says it intends to offer a Mac version of its web-based Watch Instantly feature sometime this year. Though it did not say how it would reach this goal, the company explained that the move would reflect a larger trend towards web video in general by expanding the available audience.

"Web-based video viewing is becoming mainstream, as a wide range of content companies make their content easily accessible on the web," said company chief Reed Hastings.

However, Hastings added that a lack of Mac-native digital rights management (DRM) remains a significant "hold-back" for the move. To date, the only widely used DRM format for the Mac has been Apple's own FairPlay system, which has not been licensed to any third parties. This has so far limited the Netflix service to Windows alone, where the company uses the protected form of Microsoft's Windows Media to prevent users from ripping permanent copies of streamed videos. An OS-independent copy protection system named Marlin is expected to debut with the beta of Pioneer's SyncTV service but has not been announced for use outside of other major projects.

Additionally, the movie house also said it should benefit from Warner's switch to Blu-ray for movies. By consolidating towards one HD movie disc format, subscribers are more likely to buy the relevant movie players and therefore rent Blu-ray titles. This may accelerate further if Blu-ray players crack the $200 mark currently reserved for low-end HD DVD players or if Paramount and Universal decide to sell Blu-ray movies, effectively ending the HD format conflict altogether.

The Netflix executive also dismissed efforts by others to join the Internet video on demand industry with Apple's iTunes rentals and similar offerings, noting that many of these services are limited by when and where they can be viewed and are dependent on the Internet, potentially causing problems in a very young industry.

"You only have 24 hours in which to complete watching the movie [on iTunes], so if you watch over two nights, you pay twice," Hastings said. "DVD rentals advantages over VoD are ubiquity of content, ubiquity of DVD players, an early window for new releases, and lower prices."

The senior official acknowledged that there will be a switch to online distribution "at some point" but considered the Watch Instantly feature an investment in the future rather than a complete business model, as with Apple's service or on-demand viewing from many cable TV providers.



By Electronista Staff
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Comments

  1. horvatic

    Fresh-Faced Recruit

    Joined: Apr 2002

    0

    Mac version, YES!!!

    Mac version of there instant rental, YES!!!!!

  1. danviento

    Fresh-Faced Recruit

    Joined: Dec 2005

    0

    *sniff*

    ...there's no already-developed version of mac drm...*sniffle* and mean-old Jobs won't license the one that's already out there because he wants to ruin our business too! *wailing*

    If they're serious about having their stream work on macs, they'd either make some serious efforts and negotiation with apple, or develop their own DRM system. h***, they could just skip the DRM and just make it complicated to copy/record.

    If they worry about DRM and people sniping off copies of their content, then they're a bit behind in the anti-piracy effort. I know of multiple people who would get the cheapest package from Netflix (3 discs at a time) and copy every movie that came to them. One guy even used handbrake and encoded everything to an external HD which then sent vids to his aTV. (I do the same with movies I OWN, but that's a different story.)

    It should be a matter of trust with Netflix and its customers. If they can sanction risking handing discs over people when the tools are out there to easily make illegal copies, then what's the difference with computer as set-top-box?

    My guess is that it has to do with the backwards insistence of Studios that are pretty clueless when it comes to real movie protection.

  1. Titanium Man

    Forum Regular

    Joined: Mar 2001

    0

    big difference

    Even with three at a time, you're talking six DVDs per week, tops. Probably fewer if they throttle you. Their streaming plans allow you unlimited movies. Think about how much more one customer could be stealing if he was downloading 24 hours a day or even just two movies a night. And that's on top of the DVDs you get in the mail.

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