Netflix’s (NFLX) movie streaming service will arrive on the Nintendo Wii sooner than later, but the timing is uncertain, and how the companies choose to implement it could have a major effect on how useful it is to Netflix.
Streaming media analyst Dan Rayburn writes that he has recently confirmed with “someone involved in the project” that Nintendo is in “testing stages” with Netflix to bring the movie service to the Wii “very shortly.”
He says: “What I’m hearing is that Nintendo originally planned to bring the Netflix service to the Wii before the end of this year, which still might take place, but that Nintendo is also considering holding off on the Netflix service until they release their next generation Wii HD unit in early 2010.” (Rayburn also has images of the service, but won’t share them because he doesn’t want to burn his source.)
This is generally good news for Netflix, and the timing doesn’t really matter. What does matter: That people using the old Wii — a giant base of users — would be able to use the service; not just people buying the new HD Wii. With more than 21 million Wii units in the U.S., even small uptake could lead to significant subscriber growth for Netflix. But if it’s new-Wii-only, then it’s obviously much less useful.
Netflix recently announced streaming availability for Sony PS3 machines; it’s been available on the Microsoft Xbox 360 for almost a year.