Netflix PS3 'Watch instantly' to require disc through 2010

Netflix's PS3 Watch instantly discs went out last week – and will have to stick around through late 2010.

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    Netflix PS3 streaming will require a special Blu-ray disc into late 2010, the company revealed Monday.
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When Netflix and Sony announced the Playstation 3 would be getting the former's "Watch Instantly" streaming-movies feature, but that the PS3 would require a special Blu-ray disc, PS3 owners were bummed.

After all, the XBox 360, a fierce PS3 competitor, (and hands-down winner of this generation of the console wars) had Netflix streaming abilities added to its firmware, nice and neatly.

Forget bummed – now PS3-owning Netflixers are miffed. Just days after word came that the PS3's Watch instantly feature was going live on November 6, G4 has gotten Sony to reveal that an Xbox-style firmware update won't be coming for almost a year. And worse: there's no clear way for Netflix to offer interface improvements to the PS3's Watch instantly mode.

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When asked if Netflix and Sony had the ability to update and alter the Netflix interface for PlayStation 3 users based on feedback, Netflix was immediately coy.
"Late next year we expect to have an embedded solution available for PS3s via a system software update slated for release through the PlayStation Network," said Netflix VP of corp. communications Steve Swasey in an e-mailed statement to me. "Until then, enjoy watching instantly via your PS3 using the instant streaming disc!"

That's unlikely to mean that PS3 users will have to be extra-careful with their Netflix streaming discs – Netflix is a veritable farm of DVDs and a champ at customer service. But one can easily see how swapping discs so often (play a little MW2, pop-in the streaming disc to watch a little Band of Brothers, repeat) could cause them greater-than-usual wear and tear.

One possibility, depending on the cost of the Blu-ray discs and the number of users signed up: Netflix could offer interface changes by just sending everyone signed up for the program a new disc. Pricier and less convenient than a firmware download, but better than the alternative.

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