Wednesday, October 01, 2008

I Wanna See Starz...Oh, I Can?

Interesting news today, out of Netflix and Starz (courtesy of CrunchGear) that might actually make Netflix's streaming service more compelling. Netflix, as the name might imply, has always been focused on delivering content over the web. They launched their streaming service last year, which was greeted with a universal yawn, primarily because of the paucity of content. Earlier this year, they stepped up the game, announcing a $99 Roku box that allowed you to connect directly to your TV and watch streamed Netflix content on the big screen. Interesting, but same content issues.

Today, they announced a two pronged approach, courtesy of Starz. First, Starz premium movies will now be available to stream on Netflix. This means that titles like the Pirates of the Carribean series, and other recent blockbusters, will now be available to watch on your computer or TV, instantly, at no additional costs. Second, and here's where it gets very interesting, they now will stream Starz's live feed directly. Now, look at that move: premium movie content, streamed, included in your Netflix membership. Combine that with the Roku box, and you have a legitimate challenger to cable and satellite.

I've often contemplated chucking cable, repurposing a PC into a tuner/DVR, hook it up to a digital tuner box to get HD network content free, over the air. The downside has been the hodgepodge of video sources I'd need to connect to to get my desired content: the tuner for the network shows; Hulu for some cable programming; Netflix for others. But if Netflix could expand this relationship to include the Big Three (Showtime, HBO, and Starz), and upgrade the Roku box to HD, we might have a seriosu contender for the battle for the living room. My bet is gonna be on Amazon to respond with a hardware and partnership announcement to do just that.

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