Netflix subscribers can now watch movies on their TV sets, using a $99 Internet-connected set-top box from Roku.
Unlike cable's video-on-demand services, the 10,000 movie and TV titles available through the Netflix Player by Roku don't include any windowing restrictions. However, the selection of movies available through Netflix's Internet service does not include any new or relatively recent releases.
"For a one-time purchase of $99, Netflix members can watch as much as they want and as often as they want without paying more or impacting the number of DVDs they receive,” Netflix CEO Reed Hastings said, in a statement.
Roku is selling the video player, priced at $99.99, on its Web site starting Tuesday.
“We’re excited to bring the first Netflix-ready device to the market," Roku CEO and founder Anthony Wood said in a statement. “Now, streaming video isn’t limited to people sitting in front of the PC; it's ready for the TV in the living room.”
Netflix had hired Wood, the founder of DVR startup ReplayTV, about a year ago to head up its Internet TV initiatives. Wood returned to Roku after Netflix scrapped plans to develop its own set-top and instead announced it would work with consumer-electronics partners, including LG Electronics.
The Netflix Player by Roku is a 5-by-5-inch square black box, about 2 inches high. The set-top does not have a disk drive: It caches the Netflix video streams in memory for playback.
To use the player, Netflix members add movies and TV episodes to the “instant” section of their queues on the company's Web site. Those choices are then displayed on the TV through the Roku player.
A remote control lets user browse and make selections on the TV screen, read synopses and rate movies, and fast-forward and rewind video. The device includes HDMI, component video, S-video and composite video connectors, and Ethernet and Wi-Fi support.