Last week, Netflix announced that streaming video on demand to a PlayStation 3 would no longer require a special disc be sitting in the disc tray at all times. Today, the same goes for the Nintendo Wii, which also ditched the disc requirement. Progress, certainly, but why did anyone ever have to use an optical disc to access network content at all?
The answer is: blame Microsoft. Way back in 2008, Microsoft signed an exclusive deal with Netflix to stream videos to its Xbox 360. Last year, the PlayStation 3 and Wii also got that function — but with a catch. The two other consoles needed a special Netflix disc sitting in the disc tray at all times whereas the Xbox 360 didn't.
Because of the exclusive deal that Microsoft had with Netflix, Sony and Nintendo were not allowed to use an app to access Netflix's mountains of video. Netflix worked around the issue by handing out a special Netflix disc to subscribers.
The video is still piped via the Internet the same way on the PS3 and Wii as it is on the Xbox 360, though the disc, which had to be inserted and running in order to connect to Netflix, annoyed pretty much everyone.
That cumbersome disc is a thing of the past because Microsoft's special deal with Netflix is over — now everyone gets Netflix video streaming via apps. The big winner here is the end-user — they can get their video hassle free and isn't ease of use the only thing that really matters?