Netflix on Thursday announced yet another partnership with the video-game industry as it began shipping out streaming discs for the Nintendo Wii to some of its members. The Netflix-Wii tie-up means Netflix customers who subscribe to the unlimited $8.99 a month plan and who own a Wii can watch movies through the device at no additional cost. Netflix is looking for feedback from its initial customers before rolling out the service more broadly to its subscriber base.
"We are in the final phase of getting ready for the launch of streaming to Wii," said Jessie Becker, vice president of marketing for Netflix. "Today we shipped out instant streaming discs for the Wii to some of our Netflix members. Their feedback will ensure that we deliver a great experience to everyone when we launch."
Microsoft Trumps Wii
Netflix customers who own a Wii can reserve a disc online. The free disc looks and works the same as a disc-based game for the Wii. In addition to the disc, consumers also need a broadband Internet connection to stream movies and television shows from the Netflix library.
"This isn't the most elegant solution. If you have the Wii and you have Netflix, you may as well get this value prop. But the effort definitely pales in comparison to Microsoft's implementation," said Michael Gartenberg, a partner at Altimeter Group. "On the Xbox I can actually search for content. On the Wii I have to use the computer to add new content to my instant queue. So it's not nearly the same degree of seamless experience."
Nintendo is coming late to the Netflix game. Netflix previously inked deals with the Microsoft Xbox 360 and the Sony PlayStation 3. Both the Wii and the PlayStation 3 require a special disc that makes it possible to stream content. Xbox 360 users do not need the disc.
"If you have a Wii and you have a Netflix account, it's better than nothing," Gartenberg said. "But the Wii is doing standard definition, so you are not going to have access to high-def content."
A Boon for Wii?
Netflix first announced the Wii deal in January, opening up a potential new subscriber base for the movie service. Netflix already has more than 11 million subscribers in the United States, but Wii is the top-selling home video-game console. With three million console sales in December alone, it's likely that not all Wii gamers are Netflix subscribers.
"For the Xbox, it's a premium experience. For the Wii, it becomes an extra experience," Gartenberg said. "If you have it, you might want to use it, but it's hard to imagine a lot of folks are going to be driven to the Wii because Netflix is available on it."
Posted: 2010-03-26 @ 11:12pm PT
You can browse any of the Instant Play titles available at Netflix on the Wii, play them from there, or add them to your instant queue to play from there.