Netflix to Offer Streaming-Only Plan in U.S.

Netflix is "looking at adding a streaming-only option for the USA over the coming months," its CEO says.

Netflix already offers a just-launched streaming service for Canada which works with devices including the iPod, iPhone, PS3, and Wii. The news about U.S. streaming was buried in a blog in which CEO Reed Hastings apologized for a couple of recent gaffes.

Apparently Netflix hired actors to pose as enthusiastic customers at the press conference for its Canadian debut. They were issued instructions that said: "Extras are to behave as members of the public, out and about enjoying their day-to-day life, who happen upon a street event for Netflix and stop by to check it out. Extras are to look really excited, particularly if asked by media to do any interviews about the prospect of Netflix in Canada."

Then, in the process of discussing whether Americans would be bothered by seeing a streaming-only service launched in Canada for a buck less per month than the U.S. mail-and-streaming plan, Hastings put his foot in his mouth: "How much has it been your experience that Americans follow what happens in the world? It's something we'll monitor, but Americans are somewhat self-absorbed."

Apologizing for the hiring of actors in his blog, Hastings said: "We didn't intend to mislead the media or the public." As a member of the media, I would like to extend my deepest gratitude to Hastings for giving me lots of stuff to write about.

He also retracted his remark about "self-absorbed" Americans, saying: "My Big American Foot is in my mouth.... I do not believe that one of the most philanthropically-minded nations in the world (America) is self-absorbed or full of self-absorbed people."

See press release for the Canadian launch, Investing Daily for news on the twin gaffes, and Hastings blog for the U.S. news and the apology.

In other Netflix news, the company has signed a pact with NBC Universal to stream Saturday Night Live the day after the show's live broadcasts. The agreement will also cover every episode from the last seasons of 30 Rock, The Office, and Law & Order: SVU, plus all prior seasons of Friday Night Lights and Psych, and more than 75 prior season episodes of Battlestar Galactica, Destination Truth, and Eureka. See press release.