Netflix has launched downloadable applications for watching movies from its streaming service on the Nintendo Wii and Sony's PlayStation 3.
The applications released Monday eliminate the need to insert a streaming disk in the respective video-game consoles. The software must first be downloaded from the consoles' separate online stores. The app is available for free, but a subscription is needed to watch movies.
Netflix has developed a new user interface on each of the applications, which enable users to search for content directly from the consoles. For PS3 owners, the app also makes it possible to watch high-definition movies at a resolution of 1080p and to listen to audio in Dolby 5.1 channel surround sound.
Improving access to Netflix is the latest step in Sony's and Nintendo's long-time strategy of making their respective consoles the home entertainment hub for accessing games, movies and music. For Netflix, the consoles are among the many devices that people can use to access the subscription service, which is also available through HDTVs, set-top boxes and DVD players.
At the same time, Netflix has been adding to its library of movies and TV shows, making the service a stronger competitor to pay TV. Last month, the company signed a deal with NBC Universal to expand Netflix's assortment of TV shows.
Nevertheless, Netflix, which also offers a monthly subscription to receive DVDs by mail, typically gets Hollywood movies for its streaming service months after they appear in theaters and are released on DVD. Movie studies delay releases on the Web in order to avoid hurting sales in the more profitable markets.