Since 1999, movie fans have had the luxury of selecting movies for viewing from the comfort of their home computer and then receiving them at their door through the mail.
Online movie rental services allow users a huge selection and affordable prices as well as convenience. Perhaps the only drawback to these services has been the wait between returning movies and receiving the next ones in the queue.
It appears that those movie fans who prefer more immediate gratification may soon see the method of movie delivery beginning shifting in their favor. Netflix announced early in 2007 on their website that they were beginning to phase in electronic delivery of movies to their subscribers. Switching service over to internet delivery exclusively will take a number of years as the online movie rental service has over 85,000 titles to its credit and the readiness of many consumers and the film industry is still a step behind. However, some current subscribers began seeing 1,000 titles available for immediate viewing in January 2007 with additional subscribers having the service added each week through the reminder of 2007.
In its infancy, the new Netflix "Watch Now" feature allows viewing of movies on personal computers / laptops that have a high speed connection and a Microsoft Windows operating system. However, the company reports that the future goal is to make their movies available on all internet connected screens; for instance on cell phones, iPods and computers with Apple OS.
The electronic delivery offered by Netflix offers some advantages over many download services as it is a real-time playback technology and allows viewers to begin viewing films as they are received versus waiting for the download to occur. Although meeting the demand for greater immediacy is a primary advantage to the Netflix "Watch Now" option, some convenience features will be welcomed by subscribers as well. After a 60 second browser applet installation, subscribers will even be able to pause and move forward within films using a simple position bar, giving viewers greater control.
Current subscribers to the Netflix online movie rental service have access to view up to 48 hours of films per month on the internet streaming service based on the plan in which they participate; the more films per month included in their plan, the more streamed movies that they will be able to view. There is no additional charge for viewing streaming movies versus those delivered through the traditional mail method.
Obviously, this news offers current Netflix customers a great new option for getting movies delivered into their home. For those who are not current customers it certainly demonstrates that the future of online movie rental is firmly headed in the direction of electronic delivery.