Netflix coming to PlayStation 3 next month is good news for PlayStation 3 owners (and Xbox 360 users whose primary reason for a Gold membership has been easy Netflix streaming access). But several questions about Netflix coming to Sony's platform weren't answered in the announcement release. Is there HD streaming? Why do I need a disc to access it?
I spoke with Netflix's VP of corporate communications Steve Swasey on the phone this morning to clarify these points and others. Again, good news: you should be happy with these answers, too.
Yes, Netflix on PlayStation 3 supports HD streaming. The entire Netflix streaming catalogue -- HD or not -- that's currently available on the PC, via Netflix-supporting TVs and, yes, through Xbox 360 will be available for PlayStation 3 users on day one. Swasey admitted Netflix's streaming catalogue isn't nearly as vast as its disc catalog, but said it's something they're actively expanding every day.
At the outset, in order to access Netflix on your PlayStation 3, you'll need to pop in a disc. The disc is free and yours to keep. All you need to do is ask for one and keep it nearby when you want to access Netflix streaming. That's not permanent. Swasey confirmed Netflix will have an "embedded solution" (i.e. a proper application, ala Xbox 360) "at some point," but couldn't say when.
Swasey wouldn't comment on speculation that it's a disc-based solution at the moment to get around whatever exclusivity contract the company currently has with Microsoft. Regardless, PlayStation 3 users will eventually have a more elegant way to access Netflix that doesn't require a disc, but according to Swasey, this was the "fastest and easiest way to get PlayStation 3 members now."
Netflix has not announced a specific date for when it will start shipping the Netflix-enabling Blu-ray discs for PlayStation 3 owners, but it's happening sometime in November. If you want to be at the top of the list, I recommend linking your account right now.