Last week we noted the potential for the Venice Project to boost network traffic with copious amounts of bandwidth usage – if the service catches on. But now we won’t have to wait to see the network impact of full-length movies from a popular provider. Netflix has announced that it will immediately begin offering streaming video of full-length features to its 6.3 million subscribers, who represent about 12 percent of the DVD rental market, according to the NY Times.
The service offers streaming video from a limited catalog, and will be rolled out over a six-month period. Netflix subscribers will get between six and 48 hours of free watching every month, depending upon their service tier. Hacking Netflix has a demonstration of how the service will work. If even a modest number of Netflix subscribers try the service, it will amount to some serious bandwidth usage. The move by Netflix reflects a pre-emptive strike to retain customers who may be curious about the new wave of video startups, as noted by Mike Arrington at TechCrunch:
This will be significant competiton for the absolute avalanche of IPTV companies that have been announced lately. Expect YouTube, Joost and iTunes, Zudeo, CinemaNow, MovieLink and others, to all be competing for the same eyeballs with very different products.
On the infrastructure side, Netflix is currently using Limelight Networks for content distribution (cdn.netflix.com resolves to Limelight). Limelight is privately held and has emerged as an alternative to market leader Akamai Technologies, winning substantial business from Web 2.0 companies.