Cable threats: Netflix signs streaming deal with FilmDistrict as YouTube adds features to Leanback

Netflix (Nasdaq: NFLX), which has been knocking on pay cable's movie window for a while now, has tapped hard enough to crack the glass with a small but significant deal to stream movies from FilmDistrict shortly after they are released on DVD and before they go to the pay TV programmers.

FilmDistrict, while new, has a bit of a track record with Netflix. It was founded by Graham King, who produced The Departed and Blood Diamond, reportedly two of the more popular movies among Netflix subscribers.

In another threat, Google's (Nasdaq: GOOG) YouTube is pushing for more than its daily 15 minutes of viewing time by adding more TV-like features to its Leanback product, an integrated part of the Google TV service.

According to TechCrunch, the new feature learns a viewer's preference based on explicit actions and implicit signals (kind of like a blind date in a bar) and also lets the viewer manually add new topics and keywords to adjust the content.

"Leanback is introducing users to an experience that is very different from YouTube itself," the TechCrunch item said, adding that the "notion of leaning back and just watching is something that will take some getting used to."

It's called TV, and many people are already very used to it.

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