Fortunately, the Watch Instantly pickings are starting to improve. Netflix has just partnered with Starz Entertainment to offer more than 1,000 movies that Starz has licensed for its own video-on-demand services. Starz already has deals with Disney and Sony, so these movies include a lot of (relatively) newer Hollywood big-budget films, like Ratatouille, Pirates of the Caribbean 3, No Country for Old Men, and Superbad. These still aren't as recent as the films you can get mailed to you on DVD from Netflix (or rent at your local video store), but it's a significant improvement over the previous Watch Instantly offerings for recent mainstream movies. In addition, Netflix also signed deals last month with the Disney Channel and CBS to add some of their TV shows to the Watch Instantly lineup, like Hannah Montana and CSI. Those aren't movie-related deals, but I got excited because I can now watch the Disney TV show in which a cousin of mine plays an amusingly bad-tempered chef.
But that's not all the news for current and potential Roku users. Right now, you can only use the Roku box to stream Netflix Watch Instantly content. That's about to change. Last week, Roku's CEO said they're preparing to release a software developer kit that will make it possible for any company -- anyone with the developer smarts, really -- to use the Roku box for their video streaming services. There's been a lot of speculation that Hulu or YouTube or some other company might partner with Roku, although no deals have been announced yet. So the Roku box could become a lot more useful in the near future.
What do you think? Do you own a Roku box, and does any of this news make you happier with your purchase? If you don't have one, do you feel somewhat more tempted now that you know you can watch Spider-Man 3? How is this going to effect the films you watch at home, and the way in which you watch them?
[Special thanks to Hacking Netflix, which as always is an invaluable resource in finding info about the Roku player.]