Netflix online streaming is coming to the PlayStation 3.
A Netflix press release spelled out the details of deal. The good news is that the streaming feature--which enables Netflix subscribers to access thousands of movies and TV shows on-demand via the Internet--is available at no extra charge beyond the monthly Netflix DVD-by-mail subscription, which can be as low as $9 a month. (By contrast, Xbox 360 owners also need to subscribe to Xbox Live, which is an extra $50 per year.)
The bad news: PS3 owners will need to put a special Blu-ray disc in the game console, which will enable streaming via the Blu-ray's BD Live functionality. That's a departure from all other Netflix-enabled devices (including the Xbox 360 and other Blu-ray players), which just have the Netflix option as a built-in feature. In our experience, BD Live tends to be slow and clunky, though it's generally better on the PS3 than on other Blu-ray players. However, the press release specifies that the disc will be needed "initially," so perhaps a future software upgrade will add Netflix as a built-in feature on the PS3.
Still, the Netflix feature of the 360 has long been envied by PS3 owners, so its inclusion--even with the need to be launched from a disc--will be welcome news. The Netflix site says that the feature will be available before the end of the year, and Netflix subscribers who own a PS3 can reserve a copy of the Netflix disc as of now.
Update (October 27, 2009, 8:15am PT): Joystiq has posted an interview with a Netflix representative which addresses many details of the PS3 deal, including when we might see a discless Netflix solution in the future.
So, what do you guys think: does the addition of Netflix put the PS3 at the top of the game console heap, or is the Xbox 360 an all-around better deal? Share your thoughts below.