Online movie rental service Netflix introduced a new feature Tuesday to allow customers to watch movies and television series on their personal computers and said it will make the new feature available to its subscribers in a phased rollout during the next six months.
Netflix (Charts) will continue to offer DVDs by mail to customers for a fixed monthly fee. They will have the additional option of instantly watching about 1,000 movies and television series on their PCs at no additional cost, according to the company's statement.
Customers using the service will have to perform a one-time installation of a browser applet that will take less than a minute. Then most subscribers' movie selections will begin playing in their Web browser in as little as 10 to 15 seconds after loading.
Movies can be paused and a position bar gives viewers the ability to jump to any point in the movie.
Internet connectivity with a minimum of one megabit per second of bandwidth is required. Faster connections are needed for better quality playback of the programming, with DVD quality possible with a three-megabit-per-second connection, according to the company.
The service will base the number of online viewing hours on a customer's plan. A client with the entry-level $5.99 a month plan will be able to watch movies online for six hours a month, while those with the full $17.99 a month plan that allows them to rent three DVDs at a time will be able to watch 18 hours a month online.