Who's going to win the race for delivering bits to the television is still very much an uncertain bet. The models all vary significantly. Apple's early efforts were limited, with the firm offering only video purchases for Apple TV, but eventually moving to online 'rentals' that can also play on iPods. Movie studios are now all in Apple's camp, although the firm did temporarily lose NBC's television content in a dispute over pricing. Amazon and Microsoft also have online rentals and purchase services, and can get their content to the television via Tivo and XBox, respectively. Hulu, a joint venture backed by NBC, Fox, and other networks, is free, earning money from ads that run like TV commercials. While Hulu has also received glowing reviews, the venture has lagged in offering a method to get streaming content to the television. The Netflix pioneered 'all you can eat' subscription streaming. Anyone who has at least the $8.99 subscription plan can view an unlimited amount of video streams. Waiting in the wings are a host of additional competitors, including Blockbuster's MovieLink, a service it purchased in Fall 2007.Another tricky part of this competition is that the Netflix return on investment for streaming isn't yet clear. The company spent $40 million on streaming in 2007, has another $70 million earmarked for 2008, but when the effort will be profitable is unknown. The extra spending doesn't come at the best time. Apple TV NBC outside usa vpn The switch to Blu-ray DVD means that Netflix will be forced into the costly proposition of carrying two sets of video inventory – standard and high-def. It may be that direct profits aren't the driver. Rather, the service may be a feature that attracts new customers to the firm, and helps prevent subscriber flight to rival video-on-demand efforts. The stealth arrival of a Netflix set-top box, in the form of upgraded Blu-ray DVD players, might open even more customer acquisition opportunities to the firm. Bought a Blu-ray player? For just $9 bucks a month you can get a ticket to the all-you-can-eat Netflix buffet. And more customers ready to watch content streamed by Netflix may prime the pump for studios to become more aggressive in licensing more of their content. Many TV networks and movie studios are leery of losing bargaining power to a dominant firm, having witnessed how Apple now dictates pricing terms to music labels. The goodwill Netflix has earned over the years may pay off if it can become the studios' partner of first choice.