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Netflix adds 'Lost,' other ABC shows to streaming lineup

Some of ABC's biggest flagship shows, including "Lost" and "Desperate Housewives," will soon be available via Netflix's streaming video service.

"Lost" on Netflix
Four seasons of "Lost" are already available. Netflix/screenshot by John P. Falcone

Several of ABC's top shows will soon be available to watch via Netflix's "Watch Instantly" online streaming service. The first four seasons of "Lost" are already available, and they'll be joined in September by "Desperate Housewives" (seasons four and five), "Grey's Anatomy" (season five), and "Legend of the Seeker" (seasons one and two). The deal builds on an earlier agreement to make Disney Channel content available on Netflix (ABC is a division of Disney.)

While most of these programs are already available for viewing online on ABC's Web site, the Netflix deal allows them to be watched on TV screens via a large and growing number of Netflix-compatible home video devices, including many Blu-ray players and home theater systems, some Internet-enabled TVs, the Xbox 360, and the $99 Roku Digital Media Player. The ABC content joins programs from rival networks, including Fox, NBC, and CBS, that have long been available on Netflix. (Disclosure: CNET is a division of CBS Interactive.) The online video streaming--available at no extra charge for Netflix subscribers on the $9 per month or higher rental tier--currently offers approximately 12,000 movies and TV shows.

As far as I'm concerned, this seems like another feather in the cap for Netflix. These sort of serialized dramas are perfect fodder for sequential online viewing. (The final season of "Lost" starts early in 2010, and Netflix subscribers who want to catch up--or start from scratch--can do so at no extra charge.) What's interesting to me is that ABC's making this move, which could potentially lower demand for sales of the same episodes on DVD and iTunes. One wonders how Disney board member Steve Jobs feels about it.

What do you think: Are you excited to see these ABC shows hitting Netflix, or does it just highlight some favorite shows of yours that still remain unavailable?