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Netflix and Roku Bring Movies to Your TV

Posted on 5.19.2008
Netflix announced a new way of delivering movies to its 8 million subscribers today, in the form of a set top box built by Roku. The device streams movies directly to your television. And for Netflix subscribers, it offers access to more than 10,000 titles for free - with the purchase of the $100 device. It sounds pretty good, but there are a few catches.

Netflix's catalog of available DVD titles vastly outweighs the 10,000 titles available from the Roku box, at about 100,000. While this is significantly more than what's available on most cable providers' on-demand services, the box does not contain new releases, only older movies. And how many of those 10,000 titles have you probably seen before?

It's another piece of hardware. DVD players, cable boxes, Tivos, wireless routers, gaming consoles ... you get the idea.

The Netflix website boasts these qualities: No advertisements or trailers to sit through (as opposed to DVDs and on-demand services?), Movies start in as little as 30 seconds (my on-demand movies start in about 10 seconds), fast-forward, rewind and pause (again, redundant), and "Near DVD picture quality" (my DVDs are exactly DVD picture quality and many titles on-demand are HD quality.)

And finally, the cost. At $100 and the $18 per-month Netflix subscription, you're looking at $316 per year. That's approximately the same as purchasing 63 movies per year on-demand (more than one per week), or slightly less to actually get off the couch and go rent a movie when you want to see one.

It's a grand idea by Netflix, but for me it just doesn't add up. Include new releases and give me the box for free with my subscription to Netflix and we'll talk.
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