By David Ponce
Hot on the heels of yesterday’s top tech news, today comes word that Netflix is entering the downloadable (streamable rather) movie business as well; another player in an already overcrowded field. Oh, and did we mention: no one is really sure that there’s all that much of a big market for watching movies on your PC… Anyway, here’s the story.
A select number of Netflix’s 6 million subscribers will be allowed to download a special piece of software, with which they’ll be able to stream DVD quality movies right to their PC, from their Netflix account. For free. The free part is what’s got people relatively excited. Of course, you can’t save the stuff, let alone copy it to DVD. And free doesn’t mean unlimited either: members are allotted a specific amount of time, usually in proportion to the type of membership they hold. Most will get 18 hours a month, some more, some less. They will be able to select from 1,000 titles, including stuff from NBC Universal, Sony Pictures, MGM, 20th Century Fox, Paramount Pictures, Warner Brothers and others. Yeah, it’s a lot less than their 70,000 strong title catalogue, but the service should expand with time.
And how are they getting away with making this free? They’re throwing $40M at it, to cover royalties and overhead, and which aside from wiping out most of their operating profit, could turn out to be simply wasted in a field already somewhat full. At least if Apple, Amazon, MovieLink, CinemaNow and Joost have anything to do with it.