LG Broadband HDTVs Will Be First To Bundle Netflix Streaming, At a Premium

To borrow a sentiment from Hershey, there's no wrong way to watch some Netflix. With a veritable slew of other viewing options, built-in capability for TVs was inevitable. So here it comes, courtesy of LG.

LG hasn't broached the subject of specs or prices yet (mostly), but the new Broadband HDTVs will support instant-start streaming and HD content, though it's not clear whether or not Netflix will account for the whole of the networked TV experience, or if LG plans on leveraging the connection tech for Yahoo and Intel's WebTV-like widgets, or if this connection will come via Wi-Fi or wires.

In any case, director of product development Tim Alessi told the AP that customers can expect a $200-$300 cost for the TVs over unequipped products. How integrated Netflix manages to cost that much more than the standalone Roku box is unclear, but prices like that—assuming there aren't some killer features we haven't yet heard about—leave the only real advantage to such a setup being less living room clutter. Expect more details (and probably similar announcements from other manufacturers) at CES. [AP]

Press release:

LG ELECTRONICS FIRST TO UNVEIL ‘BROADBAND HDTVS’ THAT INSTANTLY STREAM MOVIES FROM NETFLIX

Netflix Members Can Instantly Watch Movies Directly On New LG Plasma and LCD HDTVs

ENGLEWOOD CLIFFS, N.J. and LOS GATOS, Calif., Jan. 5, 2009 – LG Electronics today extended its groundbreaking partnership with Netflix, Inc. (Nasdaq: NFLX), as the two companies announced the first broadband-enabled HDTVs with Netflix streaming software embedded directly in the TV, requiring no external device. LG’s new LCD and plasma “Broadband HDTVs” will display the growing library of movies, TV episodes and high-definition (HD) content that Netflix members can watch instantly directly on the TV with Ethernet connectivity.

Available this spring, the new LCD and plasma HDTVs will join the LG BD300 Network Blu-ray Disc Player, the first Blu-ray disc player to stream movies instantly from Netflix. These products – and five new models of Blu-ray Disc players and home theater systems planned for 2009 – will offer consumers a variety of ways to enjoy more than 12,000 choices of movies and TV episodes instantly from Netflix. Netflix members owning one or more of the devices pay as little as $8.99 per month for unlimited instant streaming and unlimited DVDs from a catalog of more than 100,000 DVD titles in more than 200 genres.

LG Electronics and Netflix will demonstrate these broadband HDTVs this week at the 2009 CES®, Booth #8214, Central Hall, Las Vegas Convention Center.

“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.”

“LG Electronics was first to embrace Netflix as a streaming partner a year ago, and was first in 2008 to introduce a Blu-ray disc player that streams movies from Netflix,” said Netflix CEO Reed Hastings. “So it’s fitting that LG is the first to introduce Netflix instant streaming directly to the TV with these next-generation HDTVs.”

Netflix began offering its instant streaming functionality on the PC in January 2007 and made the leap to the TV last year via Netflix ready devices such as the LG BD300 Blu-ray disc player. With today’s announcement, Netflix will be streaming, for the first time, directly to the TV with no external device required.

Instantly streaming content from Netflix to the LG HDTVs will rely on a broadband connection and Queue-based user interface. Netflix members will use the Netflix Web site to add movies and TV episodes to their individual instant Queues. Those choices will automatically be displayed on members’ TVs and available to watch instantly through the HDTV. Once selected, movies will begin playing in as little as 30 seconds. With the accompanying remote control, Netflix members will be able to browse and make selections right on the TV screen and also have the ability to read synopses and rate movies. In addition, they will have the option of fast-forwarding and rewinding the video stream.

“The partnership between Netflix and LG Electronics continues to give consumers more and better options for home entertainment,” said Hastings.