Netflix offers unlimited movie streaming

Preparing for a battle with Apple, the company lifts time limits on streaming.


Farhad Manjoo
January 14, 2008 11:12PM (UTC)

I've often praised Netflix's Watch Instantly service, which, as the name suggests, offers subscribers a library of 6,000 movies that they can stream and watch on their PCs -- or their PCs connected to their TVs -- now.

If you've got the right equipment for it -- a Windows computer and Internet Explorer -- you can get not-bad quality streams of a not-bad selection of films, which is good enough -- or at least not bad -- if you're home alone and just looking for something to pass the time.

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In the past, Netflix limited the time its customers could play these movies (up to 17 hours a month, depending on their DVD subscription plan). Today the company announced a big change. Most of its customers -- anyone who pays more than $4.99 a month -- will be able to stream movies without any limits at all.

The move is seen as a charge at Apple, which will reportedly announce a movie rental service of its own at Macworld tomorrow.

Netflix recently announced a partnership with the electronics manufacturer LG, through which the company would offer its streaming films to people's TVs. This would get at one of its service's main limitations, the Windows PC requirement.

If Netflix can fix this problem and expand its library -- that is, give me a huge selection of movies that I can watch instantly through a raft of devices -- well, then, how can Apple or anyone compete with that?


Farhad Manjoo

Farhad Manjoo is a Salon staff writer and the author of True Enough: Learning to Live in a Post-Fact Society.

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