Although it’s been rumored for months, Nintendo and Netflix announced today that the Wii game console will be able to stream television shows and movies from Netflix’s Internet-based streaming service later “this spring”—and we believe Nintendo is referring to the northern hemisphere, there. To tap into the service, Wii owners will need a Netflix instant streaming disc, which they insert into the console like a game. The discs will be available at no charge to Netflix subscribers: Wii owners can reserve a disk now via the Nintendo Web site.
“Our research shows that 86 percent of all U.S. Wii consoles are located in the living room,” said Nintendo of America President Reggie Fils-Aime, in a statement. “Soon both new and longtime Wii owners will enjoy the benefits of Netflix—and a variety of informational and entertainment options—by being Netflix members and connecting their consoles to the Internet.”
To use the streaming service, Wii owners must be Netflix subscribers; subscription fees start at $8.99 a month. Users must also have a broadband Internet connection to access Netflix streaming content, and (of course) the Wii has to be able to tap into that connection. Using the Netflix streaming software, users will be able to manage their queues, browse content categories, read synopses, rate movies, and (of course) browse and view streaming content. The Wii console does not support high definition output, so it’s pretty safe to assume all the Netflix streaming offerings will be in standard definition…for now.
Netflix streaming has long been available on the Xbox 360 as a benefit to an Xbox Live subscription (including Netflix HD)—and that partnership has worked out very well for both Microsoft and Netflix. Netflix instant streaming recently came to the PlayStation 3 as well, making the Wii the last of the major game consoles to pick up the service. However, the commercial success of the Wii may make this Netflix/Wii deal particularly compelling, given the sheer number of Wii consoles that have been sold to consumers over the last three years.