Netflix subscribers who also happen to own an iPhone or iPod touch are now able to stream content to their devices over 3G or WiFi, a feature reserved for iPad users until yesterday.
The app is available for free in the App Store for members, but obviously requires a subscription, starting at $8.99 for mail service with streaming included. Users are technically getting this as a perk, so Netflix isn't expected to support their entire Watch Now catalog. Viewers are limited to films from distributers that have agreed to support mobile devices. Relativity Media is one such studio, and in July, they signed a contract to release films on Netflix prior to DVD. They are the first studio to sign a deal like this with Netflix, and with rising competition from the likes of Hulu and Redbox, it may be a while before others follow suit.
Netflix is committed to stay afloat though, pushing their content to an increasingly wide range of devices. 61% of their subscribers can access video from mobile devices, video game consoles, computers, and modern TVs with support for internal apps. Verizon is one of their serious competitors in the streaming market. Earlier this month, they announced that subscribers of FIOS TV can access content on an iPad in the near future. One thing holding providers back from supporting all devices under the sun is bandwidth. Mobile devices that rely on 3G for streaming will be at the mercy of service providers. Spotty signals mean video streams with low bitrates and skipping. Hopefully WiMax and HSPA will alleviate these issues down the road.
If you aren’t one of Netflix’s 15 million subscribers, but want to match movies on the go, all it takes is $8.99 to join the fun. If you still aren’t sure, there is always the free trial. Sorry Android users, still no love from big red. Keep those fingers crossed.