According to at least one source, Netflix has been conducting some very specific market research with regards to its Internet TV service being delivered on Sony’s PlayStation 3 and Microsoft’s XBox 360.
An online survey asks: “If as part of your Netflix membership you could instantly watch movies and TV episodes on your TV with your PS/3 or XBOX 360, how likely would you/anyone in your household be to do that?”
Our answer: pretty darn likely.
Specific scenarios are then laid out. For a PS3 connected to the Internet, “insert a special Netflix disc into your PS/3 to enable instant movie streaming. The disc is available from Netflix for a one-time fee of $3.”
The XBox 360 version boasts: “Now you can watch movies from Netflix instantly by using your existing Xbox LIVE account. You can choose from over 7,000 movies and TV series, and your choice starts playing on your TELEVISION in as little as 30 seconds.”
Presuming the survey is real (the spelling of PS/3 looks a little suspect), it still isn’t proof that Netflix’s “Watch Now” service will be arriving on a next-generation games console anytime soon. Although the survey talks about inserting a “special Netflix disc” into the PS3, I’m pretty sure any such software would need to be sanctioned by Sony. The same applies to the XBox 360. This begs the question as to whether either company would want to enter into an agreement with Netflix. Microsoft already has a competing Internet TV service of its own with the XBox Live Marketplace, and Sony has hinted at launching something similar.
However, Netflix on a games console is certainly an ambition. The company’s founder and CEO reiterated as much in a recent interview with the Wall Street Journal.
“Our strategy is to get embedded in high definition DVD players that are already Internet-connected. We also want to get integrated into game consoles, Xbox and PlayStation. It’s not that complex. All we’re embedding is a little piece of software in these devices. And the first one will be an LG device.”
Reed also talked down the issue of set-top box fatigue, the notion that consumers aren’t willing to shove another device under their television sets.
“No, that’s not a concern,” he said. “And the reason is, if you’ve got compelling content, people will hook up another box. Things like the Wii” — Nintendo’s popular video game console — “sell out in dramatic numbers. The Wii’s selling two million units a month. Why? Because there’s something you want to do with it. So you’ve got to have some compelling content. But the idea that people will never hook up another box is patently untrue.”
By putting Netflix onto a dedicated set-top box, along with existing devices such as the XBox 360, PS3 or next-gen DVD players, Reed seems determined to hedge his bets.
Having said that, don’t dismiss the humble laptop. Echoing what Azureus CEO Gilles BianRosa told me last October with regards to Vuze, Netflix’s younger customers are perfectly comfortable with watching long form video on their PCs.
“I think there’s a huge category of people who will watch movies on laptops,” he continued. “And remember, it’s not the laptop of today. Think of the laptop in five years. People will continue to want to watch movies on TV. No doubt about it. But laptop screens are improving. And young people are living on laptops.”