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LG Electronics has added CinemaNow and YouTube access to its Blu-ray disc player, expanding the device's support of online video content.
The new services will be available on Network Blu-ray Disc Players shipping in the first half of next year and will complement the Netflix support already in the devices, the company said.
Sales of players for the high-definition movie format have failed to take off, primarily because of their high prices in comparison to standard DVD players. Blu-ray DVDs also cost more than standard DVDs.
Prices for Blu-ray players, however, have been falling. The LG player, for example, is available from Amazon for $290, and other players are hitting the market at less than $200. Companies like LG, however, are hoping to get a higher price for their machines by adding broadband connections for accessing Web services.
In addition, analysts expect the market for on-demand movies over the Internet to grow in time and could replace DVDs, much like music downloads are increasingly usurping CDs. "LG is bridging the gap between packaged media and video-on-demand services to provide entertainment solutions for consumers' demand for content," Tim Alessi, director of product development for LG, said in a statement released Tuesday.
While hardware vendors are leveraging the Web to attract customers, online video rental services like Netflix and CinemaNow are using consumer electronics manufacturers to lure customers. Netflix is also available through Samsung's Blu-ray players, and the rental service says it hopes to get similar support in Sony and Panasonic products.
Analysts say subscription models similar to Netflix's are likely to gain in popularity as an alternative to individual movie rentals. Netflix subscribers, who pay a monthly fee for having movies mailed to their homes, can also get access to films online at no additional charge.
LG plans to unveil its new Blu-ray players at the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas, which runs Jan. 8-11.