Yesterday a White Noise reader got in contact with me regarding Netflix, which I’d referred to on the blog recently, and treated me to a demonstration of how the system works (by way of Apple TV). Colour me impressed by the service.

For the uninformed, Netflix is a US service that provides a rich library of film and television content streaming on demand. It’s not all that dissimilar to using iView or Hulu. A Netflix widget can be installed on devices like a Nintendo Wii, Apple TV, Roku, and Boxee Box and provides your TV with easily navigatable on-screen menu’s.

I was only able to play with it for ten minutes or so, but was certainly awed by what I’d experienced. There was an extensive range of movies on offer from a variety of different Studios. The content was very Warner Bros heavy with a significant number of Warners library titles available, however they were by no means the only Studio represented. There were also a number of strange holes in the content offered. For example Ghostbusters 2 is available, but not the first Ghostbusters film.

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TV-wise, the library was actually pretty impressive. The majority of the titles were shows available on DVD, with series like Lost, The X-Files, and Buffy all available in complete. The real value of a service like this came with some of the more obscure titles. I was thrilled, for example, to find childhood favourite The Super Mario Bros Super Show.

[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gIerxRpPISQ[/youtube]

In the US they charge $7.99 per month for the service. Certainly very affordable. In a country like Australia, known for a high level of TV/Film torrent piracy, I can’t help but wonder what a cheap service like this may do to curb the piracy. With a low-cost, extensive library, and an interface that makes the service easier to use than pirating material, it’s hard to imagine that a legal option like this wouldn’t bring an end to the issue of piracy in a market like ours.

Comments by Kim Williams at Foxtel recently have indicated that they’ll be evolving into a similar service in the next 18 months. Analog, linear broadcasting has nothing on a service like Netflix. If the mooted Foxtel service can achieve anything similar in scale, they’re onto a total winner. I couldn’t be more of a convert.

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Peter Fray
Peter Fray
Editor-in-chief
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