Netflix Inc. is adding to the group of movies that its subscribers can watch online or over Internet-connected devices at the same time as they would have appeared on premium pay TV channels such as HBO or Showtime.
The deal announced Tuesday with film financier Relativity Media LLC adds to a batch of newer movies from The Walt Disney Co. and Sony Corp. that can be watched online through Netflix' 2-year-old deal with Starz Entertainment LLC on a service called Starz Play.
Among the first films in the deal are "The Fighter," starring Christian Bale, Mark Wahlberg and Amy Adams, and "Season of the Witch," starring Nicolas Cage. The films are set to hit theaters later this year.
With new movies from Relativity available early next year, about one-fifth of the rental movie chain's 100,000 movie and TV show titles can now be streamed online.
Netflix is gradually transforming itself from a mail-order DVD service to one that makes available content online over personal computers, game consoles, Blu-ray players, mobile devices and TVs. Supported devices include Microsoft Corp.'s Xbox 360, Sony's PlayStation 3, Nintendo Co.'s Wii, Roku Inc.'s digital player and Apple Inc.'s iPad.
Although DVDs by mail remain the largest part of Netflix's business, the company has been trying to expand its streaming service partly as a way to reduce postage costs.
Netflix, which is based in Los Gatos, has 13 million members who pay at least $8.99 per month to get DVDs by mail and unlimited access to the streaming catalog.