How Does Netflix Internet Work?

By Lou Martin

Updated September 22, 2017

Netflix offers streaming video of movies, documentaries and TV shows through a standard or wireless Internet connection on several types of devices. To access Netflix's streaming video service, you must first become a subscriber. Though the company started by offering several by-mail DVD rental subscription plans, it launched its streaming video service in 2007. As of 2011, the company offers one subscription plan for streaming video, with the option of DVD rentals through the mail at an additional cost.


Netflix's streaming video service can be accessed using a PC or Mac laptop or desktop computer through an Internet connection, wired or wireless. To access Netflix movies on your desktop or laptop, you must first download and install the Netflix Movie Player software. From your Netflix account on the company's website, you can browse and select from a limited amount of movies to watch instantly. Similar to most computer-based video players, the Netflix Media Player is operated through a variety of controls, including stop, pause and rewind.

Gaming Consoles

Gaming consoles are another way to access the Netflix streaming video service. Nintendo's Wii, Microsoft's Xbox 360 and Sony's PlayStation 3 are compatible with this service and require wireless Internet connection. From the Wii, connect to the "Wii Shop" and follow the onscreen instructions to access your Netflix account. For connecting an Xbox 360 console, click on "Netflix" from the Video Marketplace and follow the onscreen instructions. You must have Xbox LIVE Gold membership to access the Netflix service. For PS3 users, select the "PlayStation Network" from the console's main screen, click on the "What's New" area, then follow the onscreen instructions.

TVs and Players

You can also access Netflix's streaming video service through several brands of TVs and various streaming video players. As of 2011, seven streaming video players are compatible with Netflix's Internet-based, watch-instantly service, including Apple TV, the Roku player and the Logitech Revue with Google TV. The TiVo digital video recorder is the only DVR that's compatible. A variety of Blu-ray disc players are Netflix-friendly, including ones produced by LG, Toshiba and Sony. Some electonics companies, such as Samsung, Panasonic and Sanyo, produce Internet-ready TVs that work with Netflix.

Mobile Devices and Connection Speeds

Mobile devices that are able to access Netflix's streaming video service include the iPhone, the iPod Touch, the iPad and the Windows Phone 7. You must download specially designed applications from either iTunes or the Windows Marketplace for the service to work properly. Depending on the device's connection speed, Netflix streaming video titles are usually ready to watch within seconds. With slower connections, you may experience lag times at the beginning of or during the video.