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New Living Room: from Netflix Streaming to Google TV

Photo of Anne Thompson By Anne Thompson | Thompson on Hollywood August 18, 2010 at 8:19AM

At book group last night, we not only picked David Mitchell's Cloud Atlas (in development with the Wachowskis and Tom Tykwer), but debated the relative merits of TiVo and Roku, the best way to get Netflix streaming on TV and the breadth of the Netflix catalogue of free-stream titles. I use my PS3 and a disc to get my Netflix "watch-instantly" queue to pop up on my TV. The other night on a whim, I clicked play and watched the enjoyable Anna Wintour doc The September Issue. More pleasures await me, but I do find it frustrating that many (even older) titles that are in my DVD queue aren't yet available.
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Thompson on Hollywood

At book group last night, we not only picked David Mitchell's Cloud Atlas (in development with the Wachowskis and Tom Tykwer), but debated the relative merits of TiVo and Roku, the best way to get Netflix streaming on TV and the breadth of the Netflix catalogue of free-stream titles. I use my PS3 and a disc to get my Netflix "watch-instantly" queue to pop up on my TV. The other night on a whim, I clicked play and watched the enjoyable Anna Wintour doc The September Issue. More pleasures await me, but I do find it frustrating that many (even older) titles that are in my DVD queue aren't yet available.

With Netflix actively competing for access to studio titles against pay-cablers HBO and Showtime, the at-home delivery changes we have all been anticipating are finally happening. Finally, Netflix will boast a more consistent flow of recent titles. Some will even be available within 90 days of their theater openings, thanks to Netflix's five-year, near $1-billion deal with up-and-coming pay-TV channel Epix to offer movies online from MGM, Lionsgate and Paramount.

I was struck by the changes in TV-watching one night visiting a friend who has his computer hooked up to his flat-screen TV via Apple TV (clearly, you need to know what you're doing behind the television as several adjustments were required). First, the toddlers watched DVDs, then the entire family watched YouTube animal videos, followed by a vidgame session as the teenagers played Grand Theft Auto, and finally, a live-streamed movie ordered online.

Entering the home-entertainment fray is Google TV, which will compete with TiVo and Roku with yet another set-top box, reports the LAT:

Lazard Capital Markets media analyst Barton Crockett predicts Internet video will be the biggest thing to happen in the living room since the advent of digital video recorders. Within five years, television sets and set-top boxes that connect to the Web will be commonplace, he said. That represents a potential boon to content creators, as distributors pay substantial sums for the right to stream movies and TV shows to subscribers, Crockett said. Consider the five-year, $900-million deal subscription service Netflix Inc. struck last week with fledgling pay-TV channel Epix to offer movies via the Web from Paramount Pictures, Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer and Lionsgate within 90 days of opening in theaters."I understand being scared of Google. They are big, smart, powerful and disruptive. It makes them scary from the moment they enter the room," Crockett said. "But they also represent the future."

Netflix chief content officer Ted Sarandos talks streaming and set top boxes here. David Poland weighs in on Netflix/Epix.

Those of you interested in beefing up on Google's hold on the future (some compare the Silicon giant to Star Trek's evil Borg) should check out Jeff Jarvis's What Would Google Do? and Ken Auletta's Googled.

This article is related to: Web/Tech, Digital Future, Netflix, Google, Apple


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