Dolby digital surround sound coming to Netflix instant streaming video

If you're a fan of the Netflix (Nasdaq: NFLX) streaming video service, here's yet another reason to sing its praises: the company today announced it was partnering with Dolby Laboratories to bring its 5.1-channel surround sound, Dolby Digital Plus, to its TV shows and movies streamed instantly over the Internet beginning Oct. 18.

BUT, hold the champagne and fireworks--unless you're streaming your Netflix content through a Sony PlayStation3--because, for the moment, anyway, that's the only device that'll be included in the initial rollout.

Netflix says other devices will be added over time to support streaming digital surround sound, but supplied no timeline for their release.

Nonetheless, it's just one more step that Netflix has taken to cement its leadership role in streaming content. With more than 15 million subscribers to its DVD-by-mail service--more than 60 percent of whom currently stream TV episodes or videos-the company continues to chew up its competition. While it continues to add newer content to its catalog, the deal with Dolby is a real advance, and a welcome one, for consumers.

"Netflix is committed to delivering an unparalleled experience to its members who watch TV shows and movies streamed instantly over the Internet," said Greg Peters, Netflix vice president of product development.  "Netflix required an audio solution that could efficiently deliver an outstanding surround sound experience for a wide range of consumer devices.  Dolby Digital Plus proved to be the best solution to meet our needs and the needs of our device partners."
Dolby Digital Plus is based on Dolby Digital that has been adopted by broadcasters, TV and set-top-box manufacturers, and device makers to provide consumers with full digital surround sound.  It is designed to adapt to the changing demands of entertainment delivery while retaining compatibility with existing Dolby Digital 5.1-channel home theater systems.

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