Sony and Netflix recently announced their partnership to bring streaming content to the PlayStation Network, beginning in November 2009. Existing Netflix customers will have free access to this content, making it a great addition for PS3 owning Netflix customers.
Netflix is an online-based movie rental company, which ships and receives rentals via postal mail. The service has been in operation for about a dozen years, and has shipped over two billion movies to their subscriber base of over 10 million customers.
Cheaper Than a Crappy Game (Think Wii)
Netflix offers several subscription levels to its customers. The cheapest model is a $5 per month plan that entitles the user to 2 movie rentals per month, one at a time. At the other end of the spectrum are the unlimited plans for anywhere from $18-$48 per month, which lets users make an unlimited number of exchanges, while having anywhere from 3-8 movies out at a time (which probably amounts to anywhere from 30-120 rentals per month if the user is watching and sending their movies back in constantly).
In addition to the standard rental service, Netflix began offering a streaming option to their higher level subscribers called Watch Instantly, which could initially be accessed via computers only, but which has since seen integration with a number of different platforms, including some televisions, DVR’s, blu-ray players, the Xbox 360, and now the PlayStation 3. The Watch Instantly service gives subscribers instant access to a database of over 17,000 streaming movies and shows, and best of all, it’s free.
The Netflix service on the PS3 comes with a small wrinkle at present, and that is the fact that users must use a blu-ray disc to activate the service, as opposed to the Xbox 360’s service which streams content directly through the system software. This is a result of the deal Microsoft has in place with Netflix, which gives the Xbox 360 the sole rights to stream content directly through the system. This deal expires in late 2010, at which point it’s expected that a firmware update will be made available for PS3 owners which will do away with the need for the disc. The disc is free of charge and will be mailed out to any Netflix customers who request it.
The good news for PS3 owners, is that like the disc itself which is free, there are no additional charges to using the service on the PS3, whereas Xbox 360 owners must naturally have an Xbox Live account. This may not be a major issue for the hardcore players who likely have online accounts anyway, but for the casual players who can’t justify the extra fees for playing games online, or who have little interest in playing online, using the Netflix service through the PS3 naturally makes a lot more sense than it does through the 360.
Disc or no disc, the addition of Netflix to the PlayStation Network service is a great addition, and ends Microsoft’s exclusivity with the service. For movie loving gamers who proudly boast the PlayStation 3 as the central hub of their home entertainment setup, it’s the perfect complement. The Netflix service is currently only available in the United States.
Let us know your thoughts on the service and whether you plan to make use of it (if you don’t already), as well as the annoyance factor, if any, of having to use the disc for a year (are we really reaching a point where having to insert a disc into a system is seen as an annoyance?).