Netflix announced today that they have begun testing Mac video streaming to a small portion of their subscribers, and expects widespread availability by the end of the year.

Netflix, Inc., the world’s largest online movie rental service, today announced it has begun the deployment of Microsoft Silverlight to enhance the instant watching component of the Netflix service and to allow subscribers for the first time to watch movies and TV episodes instantly on their Intel-based Apple Macintosh computers. The deployment, which will initially touch a small percentage of new Netflix subscribers, is the first step in an anticipated roll-out of the new platform to all Netflix subscribers by the end of the year.

The streaming service is based on Microsoft’s Silverlight technology and will only be available to Intel-based Macs. Netflix has been talking about Mac support for some time now, but appears to be on track to deliver it by year’s end.

Netflix is best known for its mail-order DVD rental service but also includes unlimited video streaming with their fixed monthly plans starting at $9/month. Netflix recently expanded their content available for streaming, which also includes a number of television shows as well as movie titles.

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