In late 2008, Netflix and Microsoft announced a deal to being Netflix streaming movies and content to Xbox Live customers: folks who paid $50 a year for an Xbox Live Gold membership and who also subscribed to Netflix could stream thousands of movies and television shows from Netflix to their televisions using the Xbox 360 console and their existing home broadband Internet connection. At the time, Microsoft described the deal as “exclusive,” and although Netflix has inked separate deals with the likes of TiVo and Sony (for its Bravia TVs), the Xbox 360 has remained the only game console offering Netflix streaming.
At least, until next month: that’s when the PlayStation 3 will gain Netflix streaming capability.
“The PlayStation 3 system has always been about more than just gaming, and it will soon be the only platform in the industry to offer consumers such a variety of convenient options for enjoying movies and TV shows,” said Cony Computer Entrainment America president and CEO Jack Tretton, in a statement. “Whether you want to watch content on Blu-ray disc and DVD, download it from the PlayStation Network’s video delivery service, or stream videos instantly from Netflix, the PS3 system is the only solution that offers it all.”
Sony plans to offer the Netflix streaming service at no additional charge to Netflix members by way of a special Blu-ray disc: Netflix users can sign up now to receive the disc once it’s available, but it’s something they’ll have to ask for: Netflix streaming capability won’t magically appear with the next PS3 firmware update. The Netflix Blu-ray disc will use BD-Live capabilities to access the Internet and download the Netflix user interface to the PS3 system. Needless to say, the PS3 will need to be connected to the Internet for any of this to work.
Sony says the Netflix interface will automatically organize titles into categories based on member’s preferences; users will be able to manage their queues via either the Netflix Web site or the PS3, as well as control playback, rate movies, and read synopses.
Adding Netflix streaming capability to the PlayStation 3 may make the console more popular with consumers: it’s no secret that adding Netflix streaming to the Xbox 360 not only converted more Xbox 360 users to Xbox Live Gold membership, but also generated a significant uptick in Netflix subscriptions. If that kind of success can be replicated on the PlayStation 3, the console might find it’s no longer a reliable third-place finisher in video game console sales…and Netflix may be laughing all the way to the bank.