Netflix Offers Online Movie Streaming

Subscribers of the movie service Netfilx will gain the capability to stream movies to their PCs. About 1,000 films and television shows would be made available through the service, which will be rolled out to current customers over the next six months.

Netflix is facing an ever more competitive Blockbuster, which recently added new rental options to lure customers away from its bigger rival. The streaming feature will be provided at no additional cost above the standard monthly charge.

Netflix has plans to continue to expand the number of movies available, and says it will eventually support other platforms, such as the television or mobile phone. Mac OS users cannot currently use the service, as it requires Windows.

"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," CEO Reed Hastings said in a statement.

Customers would not be able to purchase videos from the service, as the company has indicated that is has no interest in that market. Rather, it would focus on rental, where the downloader has a set period of time to view a download.

When a customer begins a download, they would almost immediately be able to begin viewing the movie. Downloading of a browser applet would be required to viewed the movie, and quality would be scaled to the speed of a user's connection.

For example, a one-megabit per second connection would result in quality equivalent to Netflix's current online previews, while a three-megabit per second connection would result in near-DVD quality video.

Depending on their monthly plan, subscribers would be given a set number of hours for online viewing. For example, those on the $5.99 USD plan would get six hours of movie streaming, while those on the $17.99 USD plan would get 18 hours.

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