How Long Does Xbox Have Netflix Locked Up?


Microsoft is re-emphasizing the fact that its Xbox 360 is currently the only videogame console that offers Netflix streaming.

But the key question is: How much longer does it have that exclusive deal?

Microsoft released an Xbox 360 system upgrade on Tuesday that adds support for the Netflix shared-viewing feature (which Microsoft announced in June) and included language underscoring the exclusivity of the arrangement: “Xbox 360 will be the only game console to offer this movie-watching experience, available to Xbox LIVE Gold members who are also Netflix unlimited plan subscribers.”

Some blogs (PaidContent, Engadget) interpreted this as an apparent response to reports (including mine) that Netflix is working to enable the streaming-video feature for the Nintendo Wii (see Netflix to Stream Videos to iPhone, Nintendo Wii: Source). Others suggest Netflix may be cooking up support for the Sony PS3, although I haven’t heard this first-hand.

However, as blogger Dave Zatz notes,  Microsoft used that language — “Xbox 360 will be the only game system that lets users instantly watch movies and TV episodes streamed from Netflix” — in its July 2008 announcement. (See Microsoft’s Xbox Gets In Netflix Queue.)

It’s smart of Microsoft to trumpet that exclusivity while it can. But it would be surprising, given Netflix’s nonexclusive strategy in partnering with other CE companies, if Xbox were the only game in town on the console front for much longer.