Nintendo announced this morning that it’s finally getting Netflix service on the Wii, so owners of the hit console can stream movies and TV shows through the console to their TV sets starting this spring.
It’s the last of the current-generation consoles to get Netflix, which has become almost a standard feature on consoles and Internet connected set-top boxes and TVs.
Nintendo has still sold more than 26 million of the consoles, including 3 million in December despite a general slump in the game industry through 2009. U.S. game hardware sales were down 16 percent through November, according to NPD.
Netflix had 11.1 million subscribers at the end of September, paying $8.99 or more per month to receive DVDs mailed to their home and videos streamed via broadband.
“We believe that this will not only add fantastic value to existing consumers and have them spend more time with their Wii console. its another beneift for those consumers considering which console to buy,” Nintendo of America President Reggie Fils-Aime said in an interview.
Netflix Chief Executive Reed Hastings told the New York Times that it took longer to develop the application for the unique Wii platform.
To initiate the feature, Wii owners will need to request a free disc from Netflix that will load the software. Discs can be requested at netflix.com/Wii. There will be no additional charge to extend a Netflix account to the Wii.
The disc is the same sort of disc used for Wii games and “allows the application to be very robust — much more robust than what migh be made available simply through an application loaded onto the Wii console,” Fils-Aime said.
“In order to create that type of application it takes time. Also to fully utilize the Wii remote takes time,” Fils-Aime said.
Netflix subscribers can manage their full accounts on the Wii using the consoles remote.
Fils-Aime declined to say whether the company will also add the other de rigeur connected TV applications — Facebook, Twitter and Pandora — to the Wii.
“We certainly look at all of the activities the consumer is doing through the Internet and we constantly think about where are the opportunities to add value,” he said.
Nor would Fils-Aime comment on speculation that the company may up the Wii’s resolution from standard- to high-definition. He said the Netflix service works well with the current output.
“We don’t believe that the non-HD resolution of the Wii console will hold back Netflix adoption through the Wii at all,” he said. “The fact of the matter is the vast majority of the instant streaming content that Netflix has available is non-HD and the fact is that … many consumers who have an HD television still aren’t watching HD content through that television.”
Fils-Aime said Netflix enhances the console’s position in the home.
“Nintendo has always said that we compete in the entertainment industry so we fight minute by minute for consumers’ entertainment time,” he said. “This partnership with Netflix will help us get more of that consumers’ entertainment time on the Wii console.”