Is Netflix on PS3 using disc due to Xbox 360 exclusivity contract?

October 27, 2009

Is Netflix on PS3 using disc due to Xbox 360 exclusivity contract? Last night Sony dropped a mega bombshell on its blog announcing what many have been speculating for some time – Netflix support for the PS3. Up until now the Xbox 360 has been the only console on the block to get Netflix. Interestingly, the fact that the PS3 needs to use a blu-ray disc to stream movies may have something to do with the Xbox 360 exclusive agreement.

Last night on the official Playstation blog, Steve Swasey, VP of Communications for Netflix dropped by to announce that the PS3 would be getting Netflix support. Speculation and rumors persisted since late last year when Microsoft first announced the Netflix service. However, things really started heating up when Netflix recently announced that another game console device with an existing install base would be getting the service.

Despite the fact I was expecting this to happen, I still find myself surprised by the announcement. I might have been thrown off a little because Microsoft touted Netflix exclusivity for the Xbox 360 recently at E3. According to Swasey, the service will be available for the PS3 starting next month. Apparently the service will initially kick off with Netflix sending out a free blu-ray disc to any PS3 owner interested in subscribing to the service (existing customers as well).

The free blu-ray disc contains software that will activate the Netflix user interface on the PS3. Apparently, users will need to pop in the disc when wanting to stream movies on the PS3 initially. According to G4TV, Sweeny confirmed that Netflix is working on developing the embedded solution that the Xbox 360 have and should be released shortly after. PS3 owners will be able to enjoy the same HD and SD streaming quality videos Xbox 360 owners have been experiencing through Netflix.

It seems like Netflix wanted to get this service out to PS3 owners as fast as possible. However, I suspect this is a temporary solution that circumvents the exclusivity contract between Microsoft and Netflix. The reason why it took Netflix so long to bring this service to the PS3 could possibly be due to developing a new technology or middleware then what is being used on the Xbox 360. When G4TV asked this exact question to Sweeny, he would not comment on the matter. However, he did state that this was the “fastest and easiest way to get PlayStation 3 members now.”

When I initially reviewed the service on the Xbox 360 I had two harsh criticisms:

– You have to go to a computer and queue up movies to watch on the Xbox 360 (this has now been fixed)

Streaming movies are limited to older movies and not the latest releases

As someone that watches all of the latest movies Netflix streaming movies have very little appeal. However, I already went on to the PS3 Netflix signup page for the free disc (here). I will be reviewing the service again for the PS3 once it comes out next month.

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