Macs getting Netflix "Watch Instantly" with Silverlight

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Remember Silverlight? Well, Netflix is putting Microsoft’s video playback system to good use by offering “Watch Instantly” functionality under OS X “by the end of the year.”

Since “Watch Instantly” was introduced about two years ago Macintosh and Linux users have been complaining bitterly about Netflix’s failure to offer the service on their browsers of choice. The company has already offered streaming via dedicated hardware and specially programmed home theater and gaming devices.

The release, below, tells us to expect the Silverlight-powered service to go live by the end of the year.

NETFLIX BEGINS ROLL-OUT OF 2ND GENERATION
MEDIA PLAYER FOR INSTANT STREAMING
ON WINDOWS PCs AND INTEL MACS

Based on Microsoft Silverlight, New Player Features Enhanced Dynamic Streaming, First-Time Use for Macs and Breakthrough Navigation for Fast-Forward and Rewind

LOS GATOS, Calif., October 27, 2008 – Netflix, Inc. (NASDAQ: NFLX), the world’s largest online movie rental service, today announced it has begun the deployment of Microsoft Silverlight to enhance the instant watching component of the Netflix service and to allow subscribers for the first time to watch movies and TV episodes instantly on their Intel-based Apple Macintosh computers. The deployment, which will initially touch a small percentage of new Netflix subscribers, is the first step in an anticipated roll-out of the new platform to all Netflix subscribers by the end of the year.

Silverlight is designed for delivery of cross-platform, cross-browser media experiences inside a Web browser. It is expected that Netflix members who watch movies and TV episodes instantly on their computers will enjoy a faster, easier connection and a more robust viewing experience with Silverlight, due to the quality built directly into the player. Among the viewing enhancements with the new player is a breakthrough in timeline navigation that vastly improves the use of fast-forwarding and rewinding. The new Netflix player takes advantage of Play Ready DRM, which is built into Silverlight, for the playback of protected content on both Windows-based PCs and on Macs. That had not been possible with previous generation technologies.

“Silverlight with Play Ready offers a powerful and secure toolkit for delivery of dynamic streaming, which offers faster start-up, and higher quality video, adapted in real time to users’ connection speeds,” said Netflix Chief Product Officer Neil Hunt. “Members who enjoy watching movies and TV episodes from the growing library of choices that can be instantly streamed at Netflix will be thrilled with this next generation improvement of access and quality, on a broader range of platforms, including Intel Macs and Firefox.”

“Instantly streaming from Netflix directly addresses the needs and wants of today’s Web users by providing on-demand, high-quality online video,” said Scott Guthrie, corporate vice president of the Developer Division at Microsoft Corp.  “By using Silverlight, Netflix can deliver to its subscribers a higher quality video experience on the Web, on more platforms.”

Silverlight was tried and proven this summer as NBCOlympics.com streamed thousands of hours of live and on-demand online video for the 2008 Beijing Olympics.

For Macintosh users, the Silverlight player will work only on Intel-based Macs, which currently account for roughly three-fourths of Mac units operated by Netflix subscribers.

The Netflix instant watching catalog of more than 12,000 choices continues to grow with significant new titles from CBS, the Disney Channel and Starz Play, which the company announced recently. In addition to watching instantly on the PC and Mac via Silverlight, Netflix members can enjoy the same movies and TV episodes on their television with a Netflix ready device such as the Netflix Player by Roku, which was introduced in May, the LG Electronics BD300 Blu-ray disc player and the Samsung BD-P2550 and BD-P2500 Blu-ray disc players, which are on sale now at retailers nationwide, and, soon, the Microsoft Xbox 360.

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