Thinking Inside the Box

Netflix chief executive Reed Hastings, addressing investors in San Francisco, outlined a plan to provide online video streaming for thousands of movies and TV shows.

The streaming service is crucial to Netflix's future prosperity, Hastings noted.

"Our key challenge is growing earnings per share and subscribers while funding streaming, which should give us years of subscriber and earnings expansion," said Hastings, according to PC Magazine.

Netflix currently offers about 10,000 movies online, while offering over 100,000 movies and TV shows through its DVD rental business.

Hastings expects the company's emphasis to switch over to online streaming, but not for another five to 10 years, he told investors.

Just last week, the startup company Roku unveiled a set top box that transfers video to TV. It's one of several set-top boxes to be introduced this year that will transfer Netflix videos.

Hastings said Netlfix' online investment in 2008 and 2009 would be "fairly inefficient," PC Magazine reports, but recognized it as essential to the rental company's future.

He added that a combination of the streaming service and the traditional rental business will help Netflix compete in a competitive market in the future.

Hastings envisions eventually attracting over 20 million subscribers worldwide via its streaming service, though he admitted the company is still a long way from reaching that goal.

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