The Netflix ecosystem is expanding as the popular DVD rental company tries to bulk up its online video streaming business in anticipation of the day when fewer and fewer people want to watch movies after waiting to get a disc in the mail. Last week, the company announced a deal with CBS and Disney to stream current-season shows, and now it has partnered with cable movie channel Starz to let Netflix members view online the Starz Play broadband subscription movie service.
One of the problems for any streaming video solution is the quality of the titles available. While the addition of on-demand streaming to Netflix's site was positively greeted last year, the biggest criticism launched against it was that the movies available to stream weren't exactly top tier. With the Starz agreement, Netflix customers can now view flicks like Spider-Man 3, Pirates of the Caribbean: At World's End, and No Country for Old Men on their computers or through their TVs, either via a compatible streaming device (like the Netflix Player by Roku) or a home theater PC.
Gamers have another option to access Netflix streaming, especially if you're an Xbox 360 owner waiting for the official rollout of the service through Xbox Live. MediaMall Technologies has a media server app, PlayOn, in beta that lets PS3 and Xbox 360 owners (or the one person who owns a HP MediaSmart TV) stream from online services on their device. While PlayOn already announced it could stream from sites like Hulu.com and YouTube, it has just announced support for Netflix's service. The app will cost $30, and eventually will come to the Wii as well. (Here's more on the PlayOn beta.)
While being able to view the movie you want instantly from the Internet is a great idea that will eventually become commonplace, there are still issues with video quality, especially when you can get movies in HD on demand through your cable box. And Netflix still doesn't offer nearly enough movies online to make a dent in most people's queues. But bulking up Netflix's online service helps content providers build up a rival to Apple and its iTunes store/Apple TV synergy, so expect more of these deals in the coming months.