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8/4/2008
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Netflix Tests Charging More For High-Def Movies

Netflix recently made a library of 12,000 movies and TV episodes available for streaming through LG Electronics' Blu-ray disc player.

Netflix on Monday confirmed that it's testing premium pricing for subscribers who want access to the DVD renter's high-definition library.

While the company hasn't said when or how much it would charge for Blu-ray disc rentals, a Netflix spokesman said it is in the process of trying to determine a pricing model that would be palatable to customers.

"Netflix is testing prices around Blu-ray right now, and we don't have anything else to report," company spokesman Steve Swasey said. "There's nothing being done across the board."

Swasey declined to give details, but tech site Engadget reported that some Netflix subscribers have said they are being charged $1, and sometimes $2, a month more for access to Netflix's Blu-ray disc movies.

If Netflix charges more for Blu-ray discs, it would not be unexpected. Chief executive Reed Hastings has said that the company planned to charge a "modest monthly premium" for Blu-ray discs. Swasey said Blu-ray discs cost the company 25% more than standard DVDs.

Netflix has offered high-definition movies for quite awhile. The company recently launched a streaming movie service for people willing to watch movies on their PCs. It does not offer high-definition streaming.

The company is embracing the Internet, which is emerging as a distribution channel for videos, as well as music. Netflix last week said it would make a library of 12,000 movies and TV episodes available for streaming through LG Electronics' Blu-ray disc player.

The LG BD300 player will rely on a wired broadband connection and a queue-based user interface to display on a TV a variety of content selected by the Netflix subscriber. Once selected, movies will begin playing in as little as 30 seconds, the companies said. The service is expected to be available in the fall.

Netflix this month also unveiled a partnership in which it would stream movies through Microsoft's Internet-based Xbox Live service. Under the deal, people with Xbox 360 video game consoles can download Netflix movies at no additional cost and watch them on TVs. The service, which also is expected to launch in the fall, will only be available to subscribers of Microsoft's Xbox Live Gold service.

Netflix has said that it hopes to convince other hardware vendors, such as Sony and Panasonic, to also carry its service in their products.

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