Netflix cuts deal with Disney-ABC, but competition looms

Netflix has some good news for cord-cutters and wannabe cord-cutters: it's struck a deal with Disney-ABC Television to get additional content, and more importantly newer content, onto its streaming service. Traditionally (if you can refer to anything in the streaming TV space as traditional) Netflix has been the place you go for last season's (and older) content and Hulu (or an a la carte service like iTunes or Amazon Video-on-Demand) were where you went for current content. There've been a few exceptions but not many. This Disney-ABC deal still doesn't offer current content, but the lag time (for some shows) is greatly diminished to 15 days after the original air date. That's much better than the old model of essentially waiting for the DVD to go on sale before you could stream last year's season.

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Full details can be found in the press release. My recommendation is to take a look at the (now canceled) dark comedy series Reaper when it hits. It's worth watching just to see Ray Wise as the devil. This news comes just a few days after The Wall Street Journal reported on some potential competition heading Netflix's way. The WSJ says that Amazon is preparing a subscription service to be bundled into its $79/year Amazon Prime service (Prime offers free 2-day shipping on all orders, so that sounds like a strange bundle to me). The article also mentions OnLive, the streaming gaming service, as a soon-to-be-newcomer to movie streaming. Reuters, too, talked up OnLive and streaming movies and TV in an article titled OnLive to offer streaming movies, challenge Netflix which quoted OnLive CEO Steve Perlman as saying "OnLive can deliver any experience that Netflix can." OnLive primed those waters this week when it released the OnLive Viewer for the iPad. This is an app that, essentially, lets you watch the OnLive interface (including watching other people play games); there's not much point to it (just to be clear, you can't play games with it), but if you were watching a movie rather than watching some stranger play a video game, suddenly the app would have a point. That said, in an interview with GamePro, Perlman claims he was misquoted:

"The other part of that [quote] was something like 'but Netflix has such a huge library,'" Perlman told GamePro. With only 200 people on staff attempting to pad out a library of 40+ games across six different platforms, he says it wouldn't make sense for OnLive to attempt growing a movie library to challenge Netflix. "

And further, "We will make movies available in time, but we have no agenda to compete with Netflix."" Make of that what you will.

Peter Smith writes about personal technology for ITworld. Follow him on Twitter @pasmith.

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