Netflix (s NFLX) announced last week that it would begin supporting disc-free streaming from Sony (s SNE) PlayStation 3 game consoles today, but Nintendo Wii owners got a bit of a surprise as the subscription video rental firm also rolled out a disc-free implementation on that game platform this morning. A new Netflix app can be downloaded from the Wii shop channel, enabling users direct access to its streaming video library without having to insert a disc into the console.
While the native Netflix app should speed up load times and adds search functionality, a few of the other benefits of the PS3 implementation probably won’t be realized on the Nintendo game console. Netflix will support Dolby 5.1 digital audio on the PS3 through the latest iteration of its app, as well as up to 1080p video on select titles. But due to the Wii’s relatively low-horsepower processor, the console can’t handle HD video.
These restrictions have led to users turning to other devices to stream Netflix and other online content. A recent survey of PlayOn media center software users showed that, despite the fact that a majority owned Wii game consoles, only about a quarter of them used it as their primary streaming device.
Even so, getting a disc-less implementation on the Wii should expand Nintendo’s addressable user base on the console. Making it available as a downloadable app enables even those who haven’t ordered a disc to access Netflix streaming, and it could help increase adoption by prompting Wii users who aren’t already Netflix subscribers to sign up and try out the service.
(For a comparison of the Netflix UI on the Google TV, Apple TV and the Roku player, see the video below.)
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