Netflix fans—and you are legion—are in for a big treat today (no tricks!) as Reed Hastings and Sony reps have announced that, toward the end of 2009, Netflix Instant Watch will be able to stream to your HDTV via the PlayStation 3 (all models). No longer are Xbox 360 fans, and owners of the newest BD players, the only ones that will have access to the thousands of movies Netflix has available for streaming via broadband. PS3 owners now have access to that convenience, too… but they’ll need a special Blu-ray disc to get in on the fun.
Netflix has been streaming some older and B-movie titles from its library for a few years now. Although it has been getting newer and more popular titles added to its Instant Watch library, most titles are still only available through Netflix’s snailmail system. With a major earnings announcement last week, the continuous addition of subscribers in a recessionary market and new deals being struck just about every day with hardware manufacturers eager to get on board the Video-On-Demand revolution, Netflix’s future looks fantastic… for now.
The other announcement coming out of the PR machine last week concerned the Hollywood studio’s (and major DVD distributor’s) growing fear of VOD. Though much of the content, even Netflix’s, is still in standard-def, the negative implications it may have on the nascent Blu-ray disc format are already quite evident.
It’s a mixed bag of announcements, perhaps, but if one of the reasons customers have for not buying a PlayStation3 was its lack of streaming capability with popular on-demand services such as Netflix, that hurdle has now been removed. Hopefully, PS3 fans will soon gain access to the quasi-radio-on-demand service, Pandora, as well as other streaming services, but for now, the Netflix deal makes the PS3 truly Sony’s “everything” device… more than a game machine, more versatile than a BD-player.
Now the caveat: The PS3 will not be able to stream Instant Watch movies directly to the device, as other Netflix-enabled device do thus far (all similar to the Roku streaming media player that launched in 2008). For now, those interested in Netflix streaming are being directed by Sony/Netflix to an announcement, and link, that allows potential consumers to sign-up for the free Blu-ray disc that will be required for the service.
Using the Netflix “enabled” Blu-ray disc, users will be able to get Instant Watch movies via the Sony-favored BD-Live environment (included with just about every Blu-ray player). The disc, really just a spinner, is the only way to allow BD-Live access to Netflix’s Instant Watch library.
Hopefully, soon via a software update, the PS3 will be able to gain access to the Instant Watch library directly; however, it’s about the only difference the PS3 has with other Netflix-enabled devices, and the PS3/BD-Live system will probably function similar to all other Netflix-enabled devices in terms of menu functionality, playback options, and other features.
It still remains to be seen if Sony will allow Amazon’s Video-On-Demand service or Blockbuster’s, for that matter, but eventually it comes down to the typical popularity contest, and at the moment, Netflix is the belle of the ball. Rejoice if you have a Netflix subscription (required for Instant Watch access)! If not, well, then… it’s probably about time to get one.