Back in January 2007, Netflix announced it would be offering “Watch Instantly” content, videos that could be streamed and viewed from the Web at no extra charge with any unlimited plan. Since that date, the Mac community has grumbled at the fact that the service is available only to Windows users, although it does work with virtualization software like VMware Fusion and Parallels Desktop. Over the last year or so, Netflix has issued several statements indicating their proximity to a Mac access solution without showing any real developments. With that in mind we take the latest notice, posted on the Netflix blog, with a grain of salt. In the blog post, Netflix spokesman Brent writes:
"And, for all of you Mac users (of which I am one) we've been busy working getting a solution that will allow you to watch instantly on your Mac. So hang in there - we'll have something for you by the end of the year."
This promising morsel of information actually came as the endnote to another major notice: Starz Play, the broadband entertainment service from the premium movie service provider Starz, has signed an agreement with Netflix that adds over 1,500 titles to the Watch Instantly catalog. Also noted in the post is the addition of new CBS, Disney, and NBC TV episodes.
Another bit of Netflix-related news came from Roku, the maker of the popular Netflix Player that allows users to stream content from their computer to their television (this is one of the few ways to circumvent the Windows-only limitation of the Watch Instantly feature). According to Wired.com, Roku is expanding from its exclusive relationship with Netflix to open its platform to any interested content providers. This means the Roku player will soon be able to host a wide variety of video-on-demand services, though it’s unclear yet who will develop them, how many there will be, and if the services will be compatible with each other.
Finally, the Roku Netflix Player will have some competition soon, from LG’s $399.95 Network Blu-ray Disc Player, which can play Blu-ray discs in full HD and stream video from Netflix’s Watch Instantly feature. Judging from responses on Twitter when I asked if there were any competitors to Roku’s Netflix Player, a number of video geeks are eagerly anticipating the LG player’s combination of Blu-ray and Netflix support.