N Squared: Netflix & Nintendo’s Wii Team Up

Netflix and Nintendo recently announced plans to bring a little more joy into the world. To the delight of twenty-six million US Wii owners, Netflix’s online streaming video service will soon be available through Nintendo’s Wii gaming console. Netflix, based in the Bay Area, boasts eleven million subscribers to its DVD-by-mail business. Fifty percent of those users are also viewing movies and shows online – an enormous growth from the twenty percent that used the service when it was first offered. Netflix attributes its dramatic growth to the streaming media technology.  It’s a no-brainer that adding Wii to the mix will contribute to a steady growth in the service.

If you’re not hip to the Netflix jive, here’s how it works:  On Netflix, internet video streaming, notated as “Watch Instantly” on the site, is available free with regular subscription service. This functionality enables viewers to watch movies directly on a PC or TV. Videos can also be viewed on Blu-ray players, Roku set-top boxes, and gaming consoles.  Wii, the gaming industry’s most popular console, will be the third console to offer the service.

To utilize the service with no extra fees, Wii owners need to have a broadband Internet connection and an unlimited Netflix subscription plan. These plans start at $8.99 per month. There is a free software disc that Wii owners must pop into their console when they want to watch a movie. These discs can easily be requested on the Netflix website now for free shipment when they become available this spring.

Two competing consoles, the Sony PlayStation 3 and Microsoft’s Xbox 360, already offer the Netflix service. Netflix’s streaming catalog can also be accessed by LG and Samsung Blu-ray players, TiVo, a set-top box from Roku, and even some TVs. In order to compete with the PS3 and Xbox’s high-definition streaming video power, it might behoove Nintendo to develop an HD version for the Wii.  Although there had been some speculation about it, Nintendo confirmed that they will not be releasing Wii in HD. The company maintains that their focus is on the gameplay experience, not visuals.

Currently, Netflix’s streaming service features more than 17,000 movies and recorded television shows. At a time when Americans are forced trim down expenses, Netflix’s choice to capitalize on the streaming media is improving their staying power. The service is cost effective and provides the viewer with a greater depth of service. This value has the potential to encourage subscribers to keep Netflix in queue, if you will.