Netflix inks deal with Disney, Sony PS3 is lead Netflix living room device

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Here in the US, the Sony Playstation 3 has constantly stood in the shadow of Microsoft's Xbox 360. It launched second, and at an incredibly high price point, and never really recovered from those two disadvantages. Worldwide, units sold is pretty close (around 70 million for both consoles) but Xbox 360 rules the States when it comes to HD gaming consoles.

So I guess when the PS3 is number 1 at something, it's cause for celebration, and it turns out that the PS3 streams more Netflix content (both in the US and globally) than any other 'living room device' and at times it even overtakes the PC in terms of most popular Netflix viewing platform. Both the Playstation Blog and Netflix wanted to share this news yesterday.

Why? Well you could make a lot of snarky comments about this I guess, but generally I suspect it has to do both with the fact that Netflix doesn't cost extra on the PS3, and in a lot of homes the PS3 doubles as Blu-ray player so folks are just accustomed to turning to it when it's time to watch something. I don't have data to back this up; just anecdotal experience.

But there may be more to it than that. Netflix seems to use the PS3 as its testing ground for new features. From their blog:

PS3 was the first computer entertainment system to offer Netflix in full 1080p video resolution with 5.1-channel Dolby Digital Plus™ surround sound and to offer post-play, second screen controls, on device sign-up, alternate audio options including subtitles. PS3 is currently the only platform to experience a new voice user interface called “Max” that’s currently being tested. We’ve been able to easily update these features to existing users of the application and continue to update and test new features on a continual basis.

So good news for we PS3 owners who're Netflix users, I guess. We'll keep on getting new features first.

And as long as we're talking Netflix, the company made a really interesting deal with Disney: Starting in 2016 Netflix will be "the exclusive U.S. subscription television service for first-run live-action and animated feature films from The Walt Disney Studios." (Read the full press release.) That means you'll see movies from Disney, Pixar and Marvel streaming on Netflix at the same time you'd expect them on premium cable channels like HBO and Showtime.

2016 is a ways off, but in a separate deal Netflix is also getting (non-exclusive) streaming rights to classic Disney films like Dumbo and Alice in Wonderland starting in the very near future (possibly by the time you read this). Netflix has more on these deals but suffice to say they're really excited about them.

In related news, Redbox's streaming service, Redbox Instant, has been delayed until Q1 2013, with a beta to start in January, according to a post at Engadget.

Does anyone else think Redbox has missed its window at this point? Amazon Prime keeps getting more and more content, and the anger that was aimed at Netflix last year seems to have mostly dissipated. Redbox also has a lot of catching up to do in terms of getting apps on a wide variety of systems if it's going to compete.

Read more of Peter Smith's TechnoFile blog and follow the latest IT news at ITworld. Follow Peter on Twitter at @pasmith. For the latest IT news, analysis and how-tos, follow ITworld on Twitter and Facebook.

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