Netflix Will Soon Stream Newly-Released Movies Months Earlier

I’ve been using Netflix Instant Watch as a replacement for cable TV for the last two years, and I haven’t looked back since making the switch.  Instant Watch has been a great way to get movies and TV shows quickly, and with the rapid expansion of available content and compatible devices, it’s prime time to be a Netflix subscriber.

One big downside to Netflix is that they aren’t allowed to stream new movies during the 4 to 7 month period after they have been released on DVD, because premium cable channels have distribution rights.  Channels like HBO and Showtime use this exclusivity to keep an edge over services like Netflix, which have clearly shaken up standard business models with their watch-whenever-you-want service.

A recent 5+ year agreement with Relativity Media will soon give Netflix the ability to stream Relativity’s films as soon as they are available.  Relativity Media produces 20-30 movies a year, including recent films like “Grown Ups” and “Get Him to the Greek” and upcoming movies such as “Salt” and “The Social Network” (a David Fincher-directed movie about Facebook).

Netflix has struck deals in the past with companies like Starz to license their content, thereby avoiding competition, but haven’t been able to strike similar agreements with other content providers.  Instead of pursuing further business deals, Netflix has decided to cut out the middle man and deal directly with the production companies.  Ted Sarandos, chief content officer at Netflix, explains, “It would be my preference that the pay channels all supply us their films, but this is an example of the other way to get there, which is to compete with those guys”.

My hope for the long term is that this type of action causes pay channels like HBO and Showtime to loosen their iron grip on their content.  Currently, HBO and several other premium cable channels forbid digital distribution of their content when they have exclusive rights.

Image credit: jeffgunn

Netflix Instant Watch Now Available in Windows 7 Media Center

win7-mediacenter-openNetflix Instant Watch, a popular movie and TV streaming service, has just become available for Windows 7 users in Windows Media Center.  This feature was added for Windows Vista users earlier this year, and the Windows 7 update comes just before the official launch of Microsoft’s newest operating system this Thursday.

If you haven’t received the update yet, you can manually update Windows Media Center by going to  Tasks –> Settings–> General–> Automatic Download Options and click the manual update button.

Netflix Instant Watch in Windows Media Center offers you an incredibly streamlined experience if you are using your computer as a home theater PC.  In the Instant Watch application you can view your instant queue, DVD queue, and browse dozens of recommended offerings from Netflix’s library of 12,000+ titles.

Want to see more?  Check out the image gallery below.

[nggallery id=5]

Microsoft Adds Netflix Integration to Windows Media Center

netflixthumbMicrosoft recently announced that Windows Media Center – the company’s all-in-one home theater media center – will now support the Netflix Instant Streaming library of over 12,000 movies and TV shows.  Windows Media Center software is included in both Vista Home and Ultimate editions by default and is also included in Windows XP Media Center edition.

To begin streaming movies and TV shows in Windows Media Center, select the new Netflix tile which is available under the “TV + Movies” section and login to your Netflix account.  You will now be able to search Netflix’s entire library and also manage your DVD and Instant Watch queues from within Windows Media Center.

mediacenternetflix1

mediacenternetflix2

Netflix Instant Watch is already available on your PC and Xbox 360, which has been had great reception and has single-handedly repurposed the Xbox 360 from a game console into a complete media center.  Where the Media Center version of Netflix really shines is its ability to manage your queues from right within the application, which is something the Xbox 360 version has yet to offer.

Microsoft has provided a few fancy videos if you’d like to see the new service in action (Silverlight required, of course):