Beginning this month, all three major video game consoles will stream Netflix video.
That's the word today from Netflix, which announced it had begun shipping instant streaming discs to some Nintendo Wii owners in the US. According to employee Jessie Becker, consumers will need only a broadband connection and a $8.99 subscription to watch Netflix on the Wii consoles.
As Monitor staffer Andrew Heining wrote in January, when Netflix first announced it would work with Nintendo, the Wii partnership promised to bring the company's streaming video capability to the 26 million US Wii owners – more than any other current console. Already, Netflix has partnered with Microsoft, the makers of the popular Xbox 360, and Sony, which manufactures the PS3.
The Wii, of course, will lack some of the power of the PS3 and 360, especially in the area of HD support. "The Wii has always only been capable of displaying video at 480p standard definition," Heining notes. "Up until now, that hasn't been much of a problem – who wants to see their Mii playing golf in 1080p? But now that streaming video is going to be piped in through the Wii, some have balked at the lack of HD support."
Still, the arrival of Netflix on the Wii is only likely to widen the popularity of the tremendously successful Netflix platform, which counts some 12 million subscribers in the US.
Earlier this year, Netflix also announced plans to expand into an unnamed international market. "The big market for Hollywood content [after the US] is Europe," Netflix Chief Executive Reed Hastings told Reuters. "Third is Asia. Fourth is the rest of the world. Canada is and was an option. It's sort of international-lite."