Netflix Lifts Limits on Video Streaming

Subscribers on Unlimited Rental Plans Now Have Access to Unlimited Streaming

Online movie-rental firm Netflix will now allow its subscribers to enjoy unlimited streaming of movies and TV shows through the Internet for no additional fee, the company announced Monday.

Netflix, which first launched an online streaming service one year ago as a complement to its established business of delivering DVDs through the mail, had previously tied the amount of streaming that subscribers could enjoy to the level of their subscription plan -- $1 in subscription fees earned one hour of streaming. For example, subscribers on the $16.99-per-month plan, which provides unlimited DVD rental with three discs out at a time, could watch 17 hours per month of movies and TV episodes on their PCs.

Now, all Netflix subscribers on unlimited rental plans, which start at $8.99 per month, will be able to stream as many of the 6,000 movies and TV episodes in the Netflix library as they want. Subscribers on a “capped” plan, paying $4.99 for one DVD out at time and limited to two DVDs a month, will be able to watch two hours of streaming content each month at no extra charge.

"Unlimited has always been a very powerful selling point with our subscribers and a large part of what set us apart in the marketplace," Netflix chief marketing officer Leslie Kilgore said in a statement. "In talking with members about our streaming feature during the past year, it became clear that, as with DVDs, the idea of streaming unlimited movies and TV episodes on a PC resonated quite strongly. And we're now in a good position to offer that."

The Netflix announcement came on the eve of Apple CEO Steve Jobs’ keynote at the Macworld conference in San Francisco, where Apple is expected to formally announce a movie-rental service through its iTunes Music Store. Last month, Apple reportedly reached a deal with News Corp. to rent movies from its Fox studio through iTunes.