Netflix Uncaps Internet Videos

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Netflix is putting more money where its name is: The company announced Monday it is giving most customers of its DVD-by-mail service unlimited access to 6,000 movies and TV shows streamed over the Internet to their PCs.

And the company expects to bring the unlimited-streaming feature to TVs, too: The all-you-can-eat offer will also be available to customers who buy a forthcoming device Netflix is developing with LG Electronics, to be available in the second half of 2008, which will let subscribers watch titles directly on their TVs.

Debuted last January, Netflix's Watch Now allows customers to stream video over the Internet for playback on their home computers. Previously, Watch Now used a metered approach that offered basically an hour per month of instant watching on a PC for every dollar of a subscriber's monthly subscription plan.

Netflix said the feature had served 10 million views through mid-August -- which means, on average, its 7 million customers have used the feature only slightly more than once. The company has spent about $40 million to develop its streaming service.

The most popular Watch Now titles have included NBC Universal's Heroes, The Office and 30 Rock, as well as movies like The Sum of All Fears, The Italian Job, Pan's Labyrinth and Letters from Iwo Jima, according to Netflix.

Unlimited viewing is available to Netflix subscribers with unlimited DVD-rental plans. Customers with the $4.99 plan, which allows one DVD out at time, will have access to two hours of instant watching each month for no extra charge.

“Unlimited has always been a very powerful selling point with our subscribers and a large part of what set us apart in the marketplace,” Netflix chief marketing officer Leslie Kilgore said, in a statement.

LG and Netflix did not announce pricing for the device, nor did they provide any details on specific features. With the LG partnership, Netflix disclosed that it scratched plans to create its own Internet TV set-top.

Look for more Netflix-enabled Internet-to-TV devices in 2008: LG is the first of several consumer electronics companies that Netflix expects to announce deals with, including makers of video-game consoles and DVD players, according to Netflix spokesman Steve Swasey.

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