With competition from Blockbuster heating up, Netflix has unveiled a valuable new service to subscribers in an attempt to get things headed back in the right direction.
The service will allow users to stream movies and television series to a Windows PC free of charge. Initially, a select group of Netflix subscribers will have access to the content, with a full rollout expected over the course of the next six months.
At launch, about 1000 movies and TV shows will be available, including content from NBC Universal, Sony Pictures, Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer Studios, 20th Century Fox, Paramount Pictures, Warner Bros., New Line Cinema and Lionsgate.
Other contributors will include: A&E Television Networks, Anime Network, Allumination FilmWorks, BBC Worldwide, Cinema Libre Studios, Egami Media, Film Movement, Hart Sharp Video, The Independent Film Channel, Magnolia Pictures, New Video Group, New Yorker Films, Palm Pictures, Seventh Art , Silvernitrate Entertainment, Starz Digital, ThinkFilm, Video Action Sports, WMG Productions and Wolfe Video, to name a few.
Membership prices will not change, however, the cost of your plan will affect how much content you are able to view in a month. For example, subscribers on the entry-level $5.99 plan will have six hours of online movie watching per month and subscribers on the $17.99 plan will have 18 hours of online movie watching per month.
Members can access the free content by clicking on a “Watch Now” tab on their home page. At that point, the process of choosing a movie or show to watch is basically the same as the DVD rental service.
So far I have been a big fan of my Blockbuster Total Access membership, but I must admit that the Watch Now program from Netflix is intriguing. Unfortunately, this new service can only provide a temporary advantage for Netflix because it does not offer any real competitive protection. If it is successful, it could be replicated by Blockbuster, who seem bound and determined as of late to get a leg up on the competition.