netflix on ps3

Okay, so you’re going to be able to stream Netflix on your PS3 soon, blah blah blah, that’s all in the news right now.  However, I’m skeptical as to the connection here, and the way this is being deployed.  Namely, why is this add-on feature provided through a disc instead of being integrated into the PS3 firmware?  I have a simple theory: Sony doesn’t want to kill it’s little baby, the Playstation Store, that sells and rents movies, and is instead making getting Netflix a bit of a speed bump.

Of course, this is all theory since the actual product isn’t out yet, but hey, I like a good mystery.

Before I go on, though, here’s the sources of the actual news that everyone is feeding off of.  I know when I’m looking for details I hate reading everyone’s interpretation of it in an attempt to get a spin on what it means — which, of course, is exactly what I’m doing.  At least I’m linking back to the source.

Okay, so, there’s three things I find suspicious here about the whole thing:

  1. The Playstation blog entry is written by Netflix, not Sony.
  2. You need a disc to use it.
  3. Sony said back December of ’08 that it was focusing on its download service.

My take on the whole thing is that Sony doesn’t like it, but they are allowing it, albeit grudgingly.  Using the Playstation Store is a ridiculous experience in DRM that only makes renting movies easier by being able to download them instead of going to the store.  It manages to duplicate the nasty elements of high prices, limited availablity, and poor choice of selections.  Netflix’s library isn’t that great *right now*, but I’d still rather pay $9 a month to stream as much as I want for one month, versus $5 for one movie limited to a 24-hour viewing period.

Anyway, my big question is, why isn’t it part of the PS3 firmware, similar to how it works on the Xbox 360?  Dunno.  Again, I don’t know if the disc is a one-time install, or if you need it everytime you want to use the service.  The press release leaves out those details.  In fact, all it says about it is that “Initially, watching movies instantly streamed from Netflix via the PS3 system will be enabled by a free, instant streaming Blu-ray disc that is being made available to all Netflix members.”  When they say “initially”, I imagine that means that it’s not going to be that way forever.

They also say, “Netflix members simply slide the disc into their PS3 systems to reveal movies and TV episodes that can be watched instantly” so I assume that you do have to have it in the box to watch it.

Either way, I guess I’ll find out next month if I get my own disc to play with.

The reason I’m watching this so closely though, is because short of the Roku, nothing has come close to delivering a worthy UI to watching Netflix on the TV (that I own … No 360 for me).  I’ve written about the Netflix plugin on Tivo before, which is downright embarrassing, so I’m really hoping that the PS3 one will more than make up for that.  I would really hate to have to use the disc every single time, though, since that would really make me lose interest in using it on a regular basis … and the conspiracy theorist in me thinks that that is exactly what Sony is hoping for.

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