Update: The Netflix API website is now available and open for registration at http://developer.netflix.com/.
Netflix is launching a very robust developer API (application programming interface) today at http://developer.netflix.com/. The API will enable developers to create a wide variety of Netflix-based applications, and also enable existing websites and software to access and interact with Netflix customer, movie and ratings information.
The Netflix Web APIs provide the ability for you to integrate Netflix user services into your application. The APIs provide the following capabilities:
Performing searches of movies, TV series, cast members, and directors
Retrieving catalog titles, including details about the title such as name, box art, director, cast, etc.
Determining the subscriber's relationship to a specific title, e.g, in queue, saved, available on DVD, etc.
Managing and displaying queues for users
Providing conveniences such as auto-completion of partial search terms typed by a user.
Displaying a user's ratings and reviews.
Including functional Add and Play buttons in your web application.
Netflix is providing multiple API's:
REST Programming API - A set of REST (representational state transfer) APIs to give you fine-grained access to such Netflix resources as the title catalog, user queues, and rental activity. See Netflix REST API Conventions for more information on working with Netflix resources.
Atom feeds - The Atom feeds provide a means for enabling non-subcriber users to read Netflix feed data such as subscriber queues. Feeds are accessed via the REST API.
For developers that want to make money from their work, Netflix is offering a commercial license (I wonder how many 99 cent iPhone Netflix applications we'll see).
The days of third-party Netflix applications that broke every time Neflix updated the website are over, and I expect to see a number of interesting new Netflix-based applications and websites over the next few weeks.
The site is currently password-protected, but is expected to be available today (Wednesday), to coincide with Bill Scott's talk at the Ajax Experience Conference.
Interested developers can sign up for free at http://developer.netflix.com/.