More options on the way for watching Netflix (NFLX) streaming movies in your living room: Beginning this spring, Korean electronics giant LG will build Netflix streaming directly into some of its plasma and LCD HDTVs, the companies will announce today.
This means that Netflix subscribers will be able to stream more than 12,000 movies and TV shows on their TVs without a separate set-top box or a PC.
The move puts Netflix — for convenience, at least — ahead of its Internet streaming rivals like Amazon (AMZN) and Apple (AAPL), which require set-top boxes or computers for their movie streaming/rental services. (It’s especially helpful if you don’t have any more hi-def inputs available on your TV.)
It’s possible Amazon or Apple could announce similar partnerships. (Indeed, as a commenter reminds us, Amazon already has one with Sony.) Or perhaps Apple will make its own TVs at some point. But so far, Netflix leads here, especially if it can get other companies like Samsung and Panasonic to build similar TVs. More deals like this could also eventually put some pressure on cable companies like Comcast (CMCSA) to increase their on-demand libraries — especially the stuff that’s available for free.
What we don’t know yet: How much LG will charge for the TVs. If they’re standard fare, we could see this boosting Netflix’s subscriber count. If they’re overpriced, it probably won’t help.
Likewise, while Netflix’s streaming service is solid and keeps getting better, it would be most useful if the TVs were capable of streaming other Internet video, such as video from Hulu, Google’s (GOOG) YouTube, etc.
Today, Netflix and its partners offer several set-top box options for streaming Netflix movies, including LG and Samsung Blu-ray disc players, TiVo (TIVO) DVRs, Roku set-top boxes, and Microsoft (MSFT) Xbox 360 game consoles.