Netflix is joining the fray of companies that are offering up movies to customers’ TVs via Internet connections.
Netflix announced yesterday that it has teamed up with LG Electronics for a partnership that will stream Netflix movies and other Internet content to LG Electronics’ set-top boxes (STBs). Netflix said it would provide the video Internet service to its 7 million customers at no additional charge, but the two companies didn’t say what the cost of the STB would be.
With the availability of the networked LG product planned for later this year, Netflix subscribers can watch movies streamed from the Netflix Web site on their large-screen home theater HDTVs, in addition to the current capability to watch movies instantly on their PCs.
“Internet to the TV is a huge opportunity," said Netflix founder, Chairman and CEO Reed Hastings.
"Netflix explored also offering its own Netflix-branded set-top boxes, but we concluded that familiar consumer electronics devices from industry leaders like LG Electronics are a better consumer solution for getting the Internet to the TV."
The video-over-Internet field has become crowded over the past few years, starting with user-generated content on sites such as YouTube. Apple introduced its STB device, called Apple TV, in March of last year, but a November study by Forrester Research said that Apple TV sales had been disappointing and that the company would be lucky to hit Forrester’s original target of one million devices sold in 2007.
Last year, Akimbo abandoned its plan of selling its $99 Internet video player. Instead, Akimbo is focusing on selling its VOD service through PCs and multi-use STBs, such as the ones used by AT&T’s Homezone service.
Apple has priced its STB at $299, while Vudu’s box is $399, although the latter was free for customers who purchased certain models of Sharp HDTVs last month and early this month.
Unlike some of its competitors, Netflix has a large library of video content with more than more 6,000 movies and TV episodes available for download on TVs and PCs.
ABI Research said in December that retail-based Internet video delivery devices have had difficulty resonating with consumers, but it still predicted shipments of 1.2 million of the devices this year.
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