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Wednesday, March 07, 2012, 01:43 pm PT (04:43 pm ET)

Netflix adds 1080p streaming, iTunes account billing to Apple TV

As part of the new Apple TV hardware, Netflix is now offering 1080p high-definition streaming to Apple's set-top box, as well as automated billing through a user's iTunes account.

Netflix announced the change on its blog on Wednesday, informing users that they can now sign up for Netflix directly on their Apple TV, and pay for the subscription service through their iTunes account. The seamless sign-up and billing experience is available both on the new Apple TV to be released next week, as well as the second-generation model after a software update.

The new sign-up and billing are available in all territories where Netflix is available, including the U.S., Canada, Latin America, the U.K. and Ireland.

In addition, when users upgrade to the new third-generation Apple TV next week, they'll be able to access "thousands of hours" of streaming content in 1080p high-definition. The streaming content is also accompanied by Dolby Digital 5.1 audio.

The defining feature of the new Apple TV is 1080p playback, with content available from iTunes as well as Netflix. Users can now download 1080p movies and TV shows through iTunes 10.6, while streaming 1080p playback will be available with the new Apple TV next week.