Netflix On Demand

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Netflix announced its VOD service early this week. There is a nice demo of the Netflix service here. I don’t have it yet so I can’t add first hand info.

The offering is for a limited number of hours of playing streams in your web browser based upon the subscription service level, and is being enabled for subscribers over the next six months.

Why do I like the product so much when it isn’t all you can eat for a flat monthly fee and you can’t buy more viewing hours and you can only stream and view it in a web browser?

Two reasons: Its a free add on to an already accepted product, and it is ubiquitous. Millions already bought the Netflix service and used it as was, now they get VOD on top; and everyone gets it, so there is automatically a huge audience with incentive to use it. Its a bit like putting DOS on every PC so making software (video) play on it is tempting.

I don’t care that there are only 1,000 videos, or that I may not get it for a few months. I am not going to spite myself by switching to Blockbuster so I can never get it just because someone else got it before me. Thousands more videos will become available. I am going to be optimistic about expansion of content over time. This is a great way to preview a movie before snail mailing it, which I liked Vongo for.

Netflix will roll VOD out slowly so it can gauge usage against its facilities. This will work very effectively to give users a good experience. They are smart over there and will easily gather and interpret the stats to scale properly.

Forget the TiVo deal. TiVo is not worth bothering with because of its small size and misdirected approach to VOD. But there will be lots of additional options for playing Netflix VOD, including media extenders to the TV and possibly a Netflix box, as well as from the DVI/HDMI output of your next Vista PC, if you don’t have something already. Note the full screen button on the player. 😉

Don’t worry about the limited hours for now. Its just an initial experiment. The offering will change to give you more choices later this year. Don’t worry about it being stream only. Whatever happens later, Netflix will make the offering into a success.

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