Netflix, in tight competition with BlockBuster, Apple TV and even Amazon – continues to push the boundaries with video on demand. Last year, Roku announced a device which enables you to stream Netflix video directly to your tv, all you need is a $8.99/mo. netFlix account, the Roku device ($99) and a broadband internet connection. Also last year, LG and Samsung began offering blue ray players with BD Live which uses the internet to extend your movie viewing experience through downloaded content; in addition to, you guessed it – streaming NetFlix!
The Samsung BD-2500, and LG BD300 offer bundled blue ray + netflix capability in one device. As if that wasn’t enough, Netflix has also partnered with Microsoft’s Xbox 360 and Sony’s PlayStation 3 to watch (stream) Netflix movies directly to your game console. pretty cool, huh? Most recently, LG has announced Netflix streaming directly to a new line of HDTVs.
And, not to be out done, Mac/linux (and Apple TV, kinda) get Boxee! Boxee (from their website) gives you a true entertainment experience to enjoy your movies, TV shows, music and photos, as well as streaming content from websites like Hulu, Netflix, CBS, Comedy Central, Last.fm, and flickr.
So, what’s next? My guess is competitive pressure. Apple and Amazon seem the best positioned, but BlockBuster hasn’t rolled over yet, so I’m guessing somebody somewhere at BlockBuster is willing to buy their way into the video streaming game, if they can’t roll their own!? Apple TV has yet to hit critical mass, and with Jobs on medical leave, it’s anybody’s guess. Amazon, in my opinion is probably the biggest wild card, they’ve also begun offering their video services within settop devices and has the technical staff and financial capital to compete with the best of them. It will be interesting to see how this all shakes out, my guess is we’ll see video-on-demand take a huge step forward in 2009, for us early-adopters, with mainstream audiences benefiting in 2010.
If this is all new to you, dont’ feel bad you’re not alone, however no video-on-demand conversation would be complete without considering today’s options, which include: Comcast On Demand, AT&T Uverse, Verizon’s Fios and heck, just for fun slingBox, which is not technically a video “provider” but they sure make watching video alot more fun!
*Update* Today I saw a demo of a blockbuster Mesh/silverlight (Microsoft) application, which actually looked pretty cool. So, blockbuster isn’t rolling over and playing dead after all! It seems MS and Blockbuster announced a deal in December to collaborate in the great “video war” with netflix. While this is pretty cool, from what I’ve seen it’s only supported on a computer (web) with mobile most likely coming soon. Cool, yes for techies, still a ways from mainstream appeal such as netflix set-top boxes.