In place of the disk, the consumer electronics company is making a Netflix application available for download on the PS3. The app was available Monday, Sony said.
Before the latest software, movies from Netflix could only be streamed to the PS3 using the software on the separate disk, which has been available for about a year. Tossing the disk for a downloadable app has been a popular request among PS3 users.
Downloading the application is free, but watching movies will require a Netflix subscription. In addition, Sony is introducing a new user interface that the company says makes browsing for movies easier and shortens the time it takes to begin playing a movie.
Other improvements with the new software include the ability to watch high-definition movies at a resolution of 1080p and listen to audio via Dolby 5.1 channel surround sound. The improved picture and audio quality is expected to bring the "home theater experience" to the viewer, Sony said.
Improving access to Netflix is the latest step in Sony's long-time strategy of making the PS3 the entertainment hub for the home, the center for games, movies and music. For Netflix, the PS3 is just one more device where people can access the subscription service, which is also available through HDTVs, set-top boxes, DVD players and other devices.
At the same time, Netflix has been building 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.