You may already be watching Netflix on your TV through a set-top box, but soon you will be able to use your television's remote control to launch Netflix on your Internet-connected television, Blu-ray Disc player, and other devices.
That's because major consumer electronics companies are banding together to put Netflix-branded buttons on the remote controls that operate their Internet-connected products. That means streaming from Netflix to your TV will take just one click.
"No more turning on the TV, going to a home screen, and searching for the Netflix icon," said Netflix Chief Product Officer Neil Hunt. "With the Netflix one-click remote, it's simply a matter of pushing the Netflix button to instantly watch any of the vast selection of TV shows and movies available to stream from Netflix."
You can't blame Hunt for being bubbly about inking a deal like this with some of the top TV and DVD-player manufacturers. There are only so many buttons on the remote control, so Netflix's ability to snatch a coveted button gives it a clear competitive advantage in an increasingly crowded market.
Here's what you can expect beginning in the spring. Buttons specific to Netflix -- including some featuring the iconic red Netflix logo -- will have prominent positioning on remote controls that operate some new Blu-ray Disc players from Dynex, Haier, Memorex, Panasonic, Samsung, Sharp, Sony and Toshiba.
Sharp, Sony and Toshiba also will place the Netflix one-click button on remote controls for select new Internet-connected TVs. Remote controls for the Boxee, Iomega and Roku set-top boxes also will feature the Netflix one-click remote. All this is welcome news for Netflix's more than 16 million customers.
"As more and more devices come with more and more services on them, the key to success is going to be exposing these services to the consumer," said Michael Gartenberg, an analyst at Gartner. "The consumer needs to know that the future is there, and there is probably no better way for Netflix to do that than gaining a dedicated button on the remote control."
As he sees it, the Netflix brand has the opportunity to become part of the consumer experience across multiple screens. The deal gives Netflix the home-court advantage, so to speak. Said Gartenberg, "For consumers who may buy these TVs and Blu-ray Disc players without any knowledge of Netflix, they may gain an awareness of the service, try it out, and continue to use it."
Netflix is permeating various consumer electronics devices. In December, the company released an updated version of the Netflix app for Google TV devices. Although the reception of Google TV is lukewarm, Netflix is nonetheless positioned on Google TV devices if they find mainstream adoption.
Netflix also ended 2010 with a flurry of announcements related to new content, including new content for its recently launched service in Canada and more content from ABC.