Nintendo Wii (s NTDOY) users, your Netflix (s NFLX) subscription is about to become a lot more valuable: Netflix has begun to distribute a new version of its Watch Instantly streaming disc for the Wii to some subscribers in recent weeks that includes the ability to search the entire online catalog.
The new disc also offers a redesigned UI, making it possible to scroll through multiple categories like your instant queue, recommendations and new arrivals. A photo shot by a reader shows a search button and a browse button, meaning users will also be able to browse the complete catalog.
The disc has apparently been sent out to a limited subset of Netflix customers since August. One of our readers contacted the company’s customer support and was told that it would be made more widely available in two weeks. Netflix declined to comment on any updates for the Wii when contacted by NewTeeVee.
Netflix started to offer streaming to the Wii game console this March. Users must load a special disc every single time they want to access the company’s streaming offering. However, some users have since discovered that it is possible to load the Netflix disk image onto an SD card and then access the streaming offering without any physical disc. This trick only seems to work for Wii game consoles that have been modified to run so-called homebrew applications. Websites dedicated to homebrew apps have already started to distribute images of the new Netflix disc.
Netflix has also been relying on physical discs to bring streaming to the Sony (SNE) PS3, but it looks like this is about to change soon: The Canadian Netflix offering, which was launched yesterday, already supports discless sreaming to the PS3. Netflix said earlier that it will enable the same feature for U.S.-based PS3 owners in late 2010.
Related content on GigaOM Pro: (subscription required)