LOS ANGELES (Reuters) - Online DVD rental company Netflix Inc said on Wednesday that some of Samsung Electronics Co Ltd’s Blu-ray DVD devices can now play video streamed over the Web from Netflix.
The Samsung/Netflix alliance is the fourth such partnership between Netflix and a consumer electronics company aimed at delivering movie rentals online rather than through the mail.
Netflix reached a similar deal with Blu-ray DVD player maker LG Electronics and has deals to stream movies to Microsoft Corp Xbox 360 videogame consoles and to a $100 set-top box made by Roku Inc.
Netflix said customers who already own Samsung BD-P2550 and BD-P2500 Blu-ray players, priced at around $400 each, can upgrade these devices at no additional cost to enable instant streaming from Netflix’s streaming service, with a library of more than 12,000 movies and television episodes.
Netflix, with over 8 million subscribers, has become a staple of home entertainment for Americans who like the user-friendly Web-ordering system for DVDs delivered through the mail.
Its “Watch Instantly” Web streaming service is offered free to subscribers, and Netflix has been moving aggressively to extend that streaming service to TV amid increased challenges in the sector from Web giants like Apple Inc and Amazon.com Inc.
Netflix said its members can visit its website to add movies and TV episodes to instant queues and will then be able to display these choices on their TVs, using a wired broadband connection and user interface.
Netflix said its members will be able to stream programs in standard definition onto Samsung and the other devices involved in these partnerships.
It does not stream videos in the high-definition Blu-ray standard, but does offer Blu-ray DVDs through its by-mail service and recently began adding $1 to monthly membership fees to provide unlimited access to high-definition Blu-ray movies.
U.S. consumer awareness about Blu-ray is rising, but adoption of the technology still faces challenges due to price and customer contentment with standard DVDs, according to research company NPD Group.
Some analysts believe holiday sales of Blu-ray players could now be hurt by the weak economy.
Netflix this week cited the economy in cutting its current-quarter subscriber and revenue outlook for the second time in two weeks.
Editing by Gary Hill