Samsung, Netflix Team for Movie Streaming

Select Samsung Blu-ray Disc players are now able to stream Netflix movies, the two companies announced this morning. Samsung's memorably named BD-P2500 and BD-P2550 set-top players will allow Netflix subscribers to access their Queue, play titles (only those that are available for streaming, though), read synopses and rate movies via a broadband connection. Both of Samsung's players cost about $400, and you'll need a Netflix subscription to take advantage of this feature. The deal is similar to what we've seen before in Netflix's other set-top box deals; you still have to add movies through your computer.

It does seem as though Blu-ray is going to figure prominently in Netflix's strategy for the future--which might be good news for Sony's struggling hi-def video format. On Tuesday, during a conference call to discuss the company's third-quarter earnings, Netflix CEO Reed Hastings said he believed Blu-ray would eventually replace standard DVDs and the company is trying to embed its software into as many Blu-ray players as possible. Hastings also admitted that Blu-ray customers make up a very small percentage of his business, but said he believes that as many as 500,000 of Netflix's 8.7 million customers will go Blu-ray by the end of the year.

The movies that Netflix streams through Samsung's players are not blu-ray quality movies. That means the only real advantage to having access to your Netflix queue from your Blu-ray players is the convenience of streaming movies to your television. Netflix's selection of titles available for streaming also is very limited: It's about 12,000 videos out of its entire catalog of 100,000 movies and television episodes. That number has not changed much in the last few months--and it's not likely to, as Netflix currently streams movies at a significant loss.

This is the fourth set-top box partnership for Netflix. Earlier this year, the company unveiled partnerships to stream movies via the Xbox 360, LG's BD300 Blu-Ray player, and also with Roku for its own Netflix-branded box. Streaming movies may be a great benefit for consumers, but with so many other companies out there trying to do the same thing, Netflix will have to improve its selection and video-streaming quality or it may get left behind.

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