Many people were predicting the demise of Netflix after the launch of Blockbuster’s Total Access Program. With Blockbuster’s system you could return your movies (the ones you receive via post) to the local rental outlet as well, something which Netflix didn’t have. The skeptics included Michael Arrington and Robert Scoble (even though for slightly different reasons).
Well Netflix one upped Blockbuster and launched its new ‘Watch Now’ feature. Using this feature you can watch movies streaming from Netflix’s website using your browser ala YouTube (you can switch to full screen!) for free. No extra cost. Netflix has about 1000 movies and TV shows in it’s online library, compared to iTunes’ 250 (for permanent purchase). This feature has been rolled out for select customers currently and they will be releasing this feature to the rest of the 6 million subscribers over the period of next six months.
Depending on your subscription plan, your viewing time will be limited. The most common plan in Netflix is the 3 movies a month for $18. Using this plan you can watch about 18 hours worth of movies, so thats anywhere from 6–12 complete movies, depending on movie length. The best part is, if you don’t like a movie you can just stop watching it that instant and watch another one. You also get ‘partial hour credit’, if you watch half of a movie you only get credited for what you see.
This is a great move by Netflix which will undoubtedly attract new customers to their service. I rarely rent from Blockbuster and didn’t ever drive over there, so Netflix was perfect for me. Now I can watch entire TV show seasons online quickly rather that ordering multiple DVDs. Awesome, can’t wait for my account to get the feature.
Check out a demo for this feature at Hacking Netflix.