The Netflix Director of Corporate Communications, Mr. Steve Swasey, spoke with TMO on Wednesday about the details of their new "Watch Now" Service. This was in response to a TMO story on Tuesday and further inquiries about support for Macintosh users.
Mr. Swasey pointed out that the initial rollout of the service is indeed PC only and that Netflix is investing US$40M in the service. The system utilizes Microsoftis DRM 10.0 via a Browser plug-in, and in the short to medium future, there are no plans to formally support Mac users. However, Mr. Swasey also pointed out that their long term intention is to expand the service to all possible customers, including Mac users.
When asked if Flip4Mac would work, Mr. Swaysey said: "If our Macintosh customers can configure their Browser to view WMV files, thatis fine." However, Flip4Mac doesnit support DRMid streams.
TMO also asked if Netflix viewed Apple as a direct competitor, and the answer was: "No. There are three models for video delivery. The first is idownload to own.i Thatis Appleis model. The second is advertiser supported like Yahoo and Google. The third is the Netflix streaming model in which you pay to view once. So, we see Apple as a complementary service, just as we do Amazon and Wal*Mart which sell the physical DVD."
One of the limitations, according to Mr. Swasey in the initial offerings of 1,000 titles is the licensing agreements the studios have with distribution partners. The Hollywood studios still want the vast majority of their movies to be distributed in a controlled fashion. As a result, only a small subset of Netflixis 80,000 movies, about 1,000, have been licensed for download. He compared this to Appleis several hundred. In the long run, this constraint is expected to be greatly relaxed over time.