The Xbox 360 is winning the fight for consoles to become important cogs in the online video sector. And a set of new Netflix features rolled out on the Xbox 360 have coincided with a promise that Netflix will not be coming to PS3 or Wii any time soon.
Netflix On Xbox 360
Xbox 360 owners gained access to Netflix’s ‘Watch Instantly’ video-on-demand streaming service last November with the roll-out of the long-awaited New Xbox Experience. This gave Xbox Live subscribers access to the 12,000-plus movies and television episodes Netflix gives away to its subscribers.
This was just the latest step in the evolution of video games consoles from being meant just for games to becoming true multimedia devices designed as living room entertainment hubs.
Games Consoles = Entertainment Hubs
Since then, all three home games consoles, the Xbox 360, PS3, and Wii have added video to their line-up of offerings.
The Xbox 360 has secured more television and movies on both sides of the Atlantic, with content from NBC Universal amongst other. 1080p HD Zune playback and a console version of the Sky Player are also on the way to the Microsoft console.
The PS3 has added a music video service called Vidzone to its line-up, which acts like an on-demand MTV. Thanks to its in-built Web browser, the likes of Hulu and the BBC iPlayer can also be viewed on the Sony console.
The Wii hasn’t faired quite as well, but its Web browser can also stream video in the same way the PS3 can. And with YouTube rolling out a version of the site intended purely for watching on television, Wii owners aren’t without options.
New Netflix Features
Today saw Microsoft unveil another update to its Xbox 360 dashboard. It includes several new features for Netflix playback. Party Watch is a social feature that enables Netflix users to watch content together on their Xbox 360 consoles.
While improved playback functionality, an improved search function, and more information regarding what your friends are watching all add to the usefulness of Netflix on the Xbox 360.
Netflix An Xbox 360 Exclusive?
Interestingly, the patch notes for the update also includes a section concerning the exclusivity of Netflix on games consoles:
“This exclusive partnership offers you the ability to instantly stream movies and TV episodes from Netflix to the television via Xbox 360. 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, at no additional cost.”
This promise for the Xbox 360 to “be the only game console” featuring Netflix Watch Instantly flies in the face of rumors from April which suggested the service was also on its way to the PS3 and Wii.
Either Microsoft has secured a long-term exclusivity agreement with Netflix or it’s hedging its bets that Netflix will decide not to branch out and welcome rival consoles to the party. Either way, the Xbox 360 looks to have secured Netflix for the foreseeable future.