Web-streaming TV is a tech on the upswing, and old hands like Netflix and Blockbuster are grabbing on quick. Now Samsung's joining in too, cutting out the set-top box middleman and bringing streaming content directly to your TV.
Samsung's making both Blockbuster and Amazon on demand services to its LCD/Plasma series 650 HDTVs, and its LED series 7000 TVs, via the existing Samsung Internet@TV system--all you need is a new widget, which you can download for free--bringing Amazon's stockpile of 50,000-plus videos and Netflix's extensive video archive directly to your telly.
In terms of the Amazon on Demand system and Blockbuster, there's no subscription--it's a pay-per-view service. The Blockbuster tie-up was initially announced back in July, and seems to be a little more sophisticated, since with the appropriate firmware you can stream it across multiple Samsung devices in your house, rather than just to your Web-connected TV. Adding to the mix is the fact that Samsung Blu-ray players with the On Demand system pre-installed will be sold through Blockbuster's main street stores--echoing the old Tivo and Apple rumors.
What's really novel about this move is that it's aimed at completely circumventing the efforts of two competing WebTV systems: Those that work directly over PCs and those that come to set-top boxes, both technologies we're all slowly getting used to. You could easily read this as a move by Samsung to keep itself relevant in the WebTV future--consumers will still see Samsung as the firm that makes their TV and also gives them access to new content without requiring any extra technology. It's almost parallel to the partnership Netflix has just announced with film-maker Roger Corman for the Splatter series--in an era when the traditional distribution models for TV and movies are being all upset by digital media, companies are trying to match up their offerings in new ways so that they can keep business turning over.
Whether other TV makers will follow Samsung's lead is unclear, but it'd be surprising if other Web-enabled TV makers didn't join in--the TV market is too lucrative to let such an opportunity slip through the fingers.