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Netflix fixes streaming-video glitch

Company corrects mysterious malfunction that had hobbled video streams to some owners of set-top boxes that offer Netflix's streaming service.

UPDATE: 3:29 p.m. PT: To include Roku's statement.

Netflix, the Web's top video rental store, has corrected a glitch that has plagued some customers of the company's streaming-video service for several weeks, Netflix said Friday.

Beginning in mid-November, owners of Roku's Netflix Player and Microsoft's Xbox 360 began complaining on Web forums about seeing dramatic drop-off in video quality and long buffering delays, which prevented them watching films.

This was the first setback for Netflix's streaming service, which has won accolades since last spring when the Roku box made its debut and helped users transfer video streamed from the Web to TV sets. Microsoft, LG Electronics, and Samsung followed with their own set-top boxes featuring Netflix's service.

With the rollout of the service, many observers have said that Netflix is closer to the holy grail of Web video--jumping from the PC to the living room--than Apple, or any other competitor.

Netflix notified customers of the fix on the company's blog.

"Recently some Netflix members using Roku or Xbox movie players noticed lower quality streaming than they had experienced earlier," the company said. "This was a temporary issue that we believe we have resolved. Working with our content distribution partners and key carriers, we made some specific changes that should restore everyone's experience to where it was before - high quality streaming."

The company declined to identify what caused the glitch.

Some frustrated customers expressed gratitude to the company for finally acknowledging the glitch and finding a fix. Said one person who posted a comment to Netflix's blog: "Thanks for stepping up to this problem."

Nobody is likely more relieved than Roku. For a week, the company was criticized by frustrated by device owners who erroneously thought the company was at fault.

"Roku is pleased Netflix has resolved the issue," the startup said in an statement, "but we will continue to closely monitor streams to make sure our customers get the best quality experience."