The AP is reporting that Netflix will be lifting their watch-instantly movie streaming service for all Netflix customers (except for those Netflix customers who pay $4.99 to rent up to two DVDs per month) beginning today, Monday, January 14th, 2008. This move is reportedly in response to a potential threat from Apple Inc. right before Apple's expected entry into the movie streaming rental business.
The article says that Steve Jobs is expected to make an official announcement Tuesday of Apples intention to begin renting movies via an online streaming service.
Netflix is working with LG to add Netflix watch-instantly to a new LG set-top box and hopes to work with many other hardware vendors to include it's watch-now service within various hardware devices to help Netflix enter the living rooms of America for what will likely be the next battle for movie rentals. While renting movies with the press of a button is mostly done via peoples cable boxes right now, it is likely to become commonplace in devices of all kinds eventually squeezing out the all familiar DVD rental.
My netflix account was switched to unlimited watch-now mid-day Monday. Here's a screenshot of my Netflix account details reflecting the change.