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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.

By Andrew Heining / November 11, 2009

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.

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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.

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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