LG to unveil netflixed HDTVs

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LG to unveil netflixed HDTVs

Las Vegas (NV) – Don’t tell us you didn’t see this one coming: After a Netflix box, Netflix integration in the Xbox 360 and Blu-ray players, LG is expected to become the first company to offer LCD and plasma TVs with built-in support for Netflix movie streaming.

LG has a history of making forward-thinking announcements at CES, such as a hybrid HD DVD/Blu-ray player in 2007. This year, the company is set to unveil a range of “broadband-enabled HDTVs with Netflix streaming software embedded directly in the TV” – which means that consumers do not need an extra box to connect to the online movie resource.  

Available this spring, the new LCD and plasma HDTVs will join the BD300 Network Blu-ray disc player, which was the first Blu-ray disc player to stream movies, as well as five new Netflix-enabled Blu-ray players, LG said. According to the company, consumers can choose from a library of 12,000 movies and TV episodes; unlimited streaming is available starting at $8.99 per month.  

“Embedding the Netflix streaming software in the television is a natural progression of our partnership with Netflix and our innovative product line,” said LG Electronics USA president Teddy Hwang. “This is an LG industry-first, which provides another flexible option for consumers seeking to access exciting content directly through their HDTV.”

The LG TVs will connect to the Internet via an Ethernet connection, which will be a challenge for some households. Not every family room has an Ethernet connection next to the cable outlet. LG will not offer Wi-Fi connectivity in this first generation of Netflix TVs.

Netflix-enabled TVs are clearly a natural evolution of movie streaming, but we wonder whether it is time for Netflix to discuss new broadband bandwidth caps with ISPs, which may become the most significant limitation for the expansion of its business, and whether it is time for Blockbuster to surrender to Netflix.   

Meanwhile, Amazon announced that its Video on Demand service is now supported by the Roku video streaming box. Beginning in early 2009, the Roku Player, which currently supports only the Netflix service, will offer access to Amazon Video On Demand and “more than 40,000 commercial-free movies and television shows.” The difference to the Netflix service is that there is no subscription fee, but viewers will either have to purchase a movie for typically $15 or “rent” it from $4 and up.