Nintendo Wii owners will be able to access unlimited streaming media from Netflix this spring. Users will access video-on-demand content (aka, Netflix’s ever-expanding library) the same way that PlayStation 3 owners currently do: by disc. The big caveat for Wii owners is that, though they access the service via a broadband connection much like PS3 and Xbox owners, the Wii itself does not support high-definition video, topping out at 480 scanlines for a good ol’ standard-def experience. Wii owners will not be able to play back the HD content from Netflix, but they will have access to it for the bare minimum subscription that Netflix requires with no extra charge, unlike Xbox 360 owners who pay a hefty $50-a-year to access what PS3 users generally get for free.
Wii owners should be able to receive the disc much the same way PS3 owners did… by visiting their existing, or newly created, Netflix account and requesting the disc for shipment. The disc will probably need to be keyed to a code, but from there it will be pretty much the same experience that Xbox, PS3 and Roku users have as well as those with broadband/Netflix capable Blu-ray players. Expect this development to push Nintendo into the HD market for gaming/video. There’s no doubt the Wii will include some form of HD playback in its next iteration, just as the PlayStation and Xbox prep for some type of Wii-like motion control for their next level of games. For now, Wii owners can proudly wave their controllers in their air, and shake ’em like they just don’t care… they finally have some Netflix access and that’s better than nothing.