Netflix's exclusive distribution deal with Microsoft Xbox 360 for game consoles is ending, as the movie-rental provider next month will let U.S. subscribers access its Internet-to-TV video-on-demand service through Sony PlayStation 3 gaming consoles.
Sony has sold about 9 million PS3 systems in the U.S. to date, and Netflix had 11.1 million subscribers as of September 30. According to Netflix, more than 40% of its subscribers instantly watched at least 15 minutes of streaming content in the third quarter of 2009.
The Netflix streaming service -- touted as offering more than 17,000 titles on-demand -- is available on other devices, including TiVo DVRs, LG Electronics TVs and Blu-ray disc players and the Roku Internet-video set-top. This fall, the service is to become available on Sony's Internet-connected Bravia HDTVs.
To enable the Netflix streaming feature, current PS3 system owners must install a software upgrade. Users can reserve a free Blu-ray disc with the upgrade by registering at www.netflix.com/ps3.
From Sony's perspective, the addition of the Netflix VOD service adds to home entertainment options that include the ability to play Blu-ray disc movies and music, view photos, browse the Internet and download video from the PlayStation Network.
"The PlayStation 3 system has always been about more than just gaming, and it will soon be the only platform in the industry to offer consumers such a variety of convenient options for enjoying movies and TV shows," Sony Computer Entertainment America president and CEO Jack Tretton in announcing the Netflix partnership.
The Netflix menu on the PS3 displays a member's existing queue, or organizes titles into various categories by genre, new arrivals or personal preference. Members can use the Netflix Web site or navigate directly on their PS3 systems to add movies and TV shows to their queues.