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Netflix battles Apple by eliminating online-watching limits

Online movie rental company is announcing the end of viewing limits for its streaming video service, as it tries to one-up Apple at the start of Macworld.

UPDATE: Netflix made its official announcement on Monday morning.

In an attempt to counteract whatever announcements Apple will make at Macworld this week, Netflix has decided to let subscribers stream unlimited movies and TV shows, with almost every basic plan, the Associated Press is reporting.

Currently, subscribers can watch anywhere from 5 to 48 hours a month, depending on their plan, although I don't see how anyone could be on the "eight-at-a-time" plan. (My two-at-a time plan came with 14 hours.)

The new, unlimited plan will be available to all subscribers, except for those on the two-rentals-per-month plan.

Even though we knew this was coming, it is still big news. We are so close to the large-scale broadband video revolution, I can almost taste it. With download speeds increasing and the promise of Netflix-enabled set-top boxes, we are almost there. I can't envision many better scenarios than having Netflix's entire catalog available for watching on my TV instantly.

Apple is expected to announce its own movie rental service on Monday--but with a pay-per-movie model as opposed to a subscription-based one like Netflix's.

I personally like Netflix's model better. But then again, Apple used the same strategy in music, and it has worked out pretty well so far. With all of these recent developments looking so promising, someone is going to have to break the news to Sony that all of this fuss over Blu-ray isn't going to matter in a year or two.