Update: Microsoft has issued an official response to this news here, and it seems they’re keeping 360 Netflix access tied to Live Gold membership. Don’t despair though, I have a hunch that they’ll reconsider if the Netflix PS3 service takes off strongly.
It was only a matter of time before Netflix started sharing the streaming love across game consoles. Last night they announced that their streaming content, which has been much beloved on the Xbox 360, will be making the jump to the Playstation 3 as well. It won’t be integrated into the PS3’s software for some time, but Netflix subscribers can sign up to receive a Blu-ray disc that will grant them access to the stream content. Unfortunately, it doesn’t seem to be an installation disc–it has to be in the console to work–but on the plus side PS3 users don’t have to pay anything extra for Netflix access.
This news shouldn’t be a surprise to anyone. Netflix has no reason to remain exclusive to Microsoft forever. All they care about is getting Netflix access to as many boxes as possible. The Xbox was the ideal way to introduce the service to the console world–what with its larger install base and Microsoft’s near-psychotic drive to outdo the PS3 in every way possible.
For the longest time, it was thought that Sony would be against Netflix integration for fear that it would cannibalize Blu-ray sales (Note to Sony: DVD and an uninterested public are your real concern). Sony’s focus now should be on making sure that the Netflix experience on the PS3 is as well integrated into the platform as it is on the 360. Hopefully it’s easier to navigate than Sony’s PS3 video store.
The real question now is how will Microsoft respond. First off, I’m fairly certain we’ll see them announce that Netflix will no longer require the premium Xbox Live Gold account sometime soon. This is the beauty of competition, Microsoft’s hand will simply be forced in the matter. I also suspect that they’ll continue on working out ways to offer content the PS3 can’t–be it exclusive Netflix content, or exclusive HD access.
It’s a win for consumers (and Netflix) however things work out in the ongoing competition between MS and Sony.