Breaking: Netflix to Launch Apple TV Competitor

The Associated Press is reporting that DVD-by-mail service Netflix will begin delivering movies and other programming directly to televisions later this year through a set-top box that will pipe entertainment over a high-speed Internet connection:

“The set-top box, to be made by LG Electronics Inc. as part of a partnership announced late Wednesday, is designed to broaden the appeal of a year-old streaming service that Netflix provides to its 7 million subscribers at no additional charge.”

There’s no word on pricing yet, but the article notes that similar boxes from Apple and other competing vendors cost $299 to $399. Apple’s box plays the same media files as an iPhone or video-capable iPod; it remains to be seen if Netflix will allow movie downloads for transfer to mobile devices.

Netflix’s current streaming service, called Watch it Now, is pretty good. But movie studios limit the movies that customers can see over these services to several thousand titles, well under the near-100,000 titles on DVD that Netflix stocks. Still, it looks to be a growth area, which would explain why Blockbuster got nervous a couple of months ago and bought Movielink to compete with Netflix in precisely this arena.

Netflix to deliver movies directly to TV [AP via CNNMoney.com]