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Netflix gets a button on the remote control

TEXT OF STORY

Kai Ryssdal: The tech industry's annual extravaganza -- the Consumer Electronics Show -- starts later this week in Las Vegas. But pre-game publicity is well underway.

Today, Netflix announced that remote controls for certain televisions will soon come equipped with a big red button -- as in the big red Netflix logo. The button will take you directly to their video streaming service.

Marketplace's Jennifer Collins reports that could give a whole new meaning to the nightly battle over the clicker.


Jennifer Collins: One in four high-definition TVs sold last year could connect to the Internet. But it can be complicated to access online content with your TV remote. Lucy Hood is with the University of Southern California's Marshall School of Business.

Lucy Hood: Part of the difficulty for consumers is there are so many buttons on your remote control its often hard to operate.

Panasonic, Samsung and Sony all plan to sell TVs or Blu-Ray players that come with the special clickers.

Hood: Netflix is first in to get a button on the remote control and you can be sure that everybody else will be rushing after them to do that.

Gaming companies, Internet content providers, all will be looking to grab some of that real estate. Hood says that button with the red Netflix logo may be just what the company needs to keep adding to its 16 million subscribers. And Kurt Scherf of Parks Associates says the button could also make web-TVs more attractive.

Kurt Scherf: So it just speaks to the enormous popularity of Netflix and online streaming. The future is coming and it's come a lot faster than I think a lot of us thought.

He also says that future may have less of a place for expensive cable and satellite TV.

Scherf: You hear from more and more people that they're going to say goodbye to cable because of Netflix this year.

And from more and more TV manufacturers that they're creating sets that connect to the Internet.

I'm Jennifer Collins for Marketplace.

About the author

Jennifer Collins is a reporter for the Marketplace portfolio of programs. She is based in Los Angeles, where she covers media, retail, the entertainment industry and the West Coast.

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