DirecTV Considers a Netflix Rival

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Sounds like DirecTV has a bit of Netflix envy.

In a recent web survey, revealed by Zatz Not Funny, DirecTV asks customers how they’d feel about “a streaming-only Netflix-like service for a flat fee per month, which would appear as a line item on your monthly bill.”

The service would offer thousands of movies and TV shows for unlimited streaming through an Internet connection — in other words, not through satellite. As with Netflix, the content would mostly consist of past TV shows, back seasons of current TV shows and movies that are more than five years old.

How DirecTV would differentiate itself from Netflix is unclear, aside from the unified billing process, although a service offered directly through the satellite provider’s own set-top boxes would reduce the need for more living room hardware.

But that raises another issue: According to Investor’s Business Daily, only 6 percent of DirecTV’s set-tops are currently connected to the Internet. DirecTV wants to boost that number to 40 percent by 2013, but given the number of TVs, Blu-ray players, game consoles and other streaming boxes that already run Netflix, I wonder how many people really need DirecTV to provide that service.

In any case, I wouldn’t expect DirecTV streaming video to arrive anytime soon. Even if customers show a strong interest in a Netflix rival, DirecTV would still have to acquire streaming licenses from movie studios and TV networks. That could take a while.