The bad news is that our bulging tips box reports Netflix's website and Watch Instantly streaming service have been mostly inaccessible for the last couple of hours. Those lucky enough to have the page open from earlier may still have access, and devices based on older UIs are up and running while the newer HTML5 based frontends seem to be down for the count. The worse news is Crain's New York Business reported today that a new licensing deal with Showtime will not renew streaming access to older seasons of currently airing shows like Dexter and Californication when they expire this summer. Instead, their arrangement will cover shows that are off the air like The Tudors and Sleeper Cell.

Showtime has decided to hold the fresher stuff back for its TV Everywhere portals accessible by pay-TV subscribers despite Netflix's best efforts to pitch itself as a friend to the premium networks, which could also explain its plan to start offering original content of its own next year. Wide outages like this have been relatively rare and while we'll just keep an eye on @NetflixHelps until it's back up, there's no telling what other blank spaces we might find in our instant streaming queues in the future.

[Thanks to everyone who sent this in]

Update: Things appear to be back to normal as of 10:30 p.m. EST or so, there's no official word via Twitter yet but between the commenters below and the episode of Firefly we're watching, it's all good. Wait -- Not so fast, while PC streaming is a go, devices are still mostly locked out.

Per @NetflixHelps UPDATE: Streaming is back on the website. We're still working on getting streaming back to all devices. Thanks for your patience!

Update 2: From @NetflixHelps - RESOLVED: The website and devices are back up and running. Thanks again for your patience while we worked to get this fixed!