Netflix Says "I Do" To Microsoft's Xbox Live

During their press briefing at E3, Microsoft announced that they have entered a partnership with Netflix, according to MSNBC. The (unholy) union means that starting this fall, Xbox users will be able to view streaming videos from Netflix’s collection, however, they may only select from the 10,000 movies and shows which are available online and not the complete DVD library which includes some 100,000 titles. Microsoft has been touting this new service as free, however, that’s not completely true. Details, inside…

In order to use the new service, users will need to be an Xbox Gold-level member which costs $50 a year. Naturally, they will also need a Netflix membership, but it has to be above the base $4.99 membership level.

The article says,

Confirming another pervasive rumor, the software upgrade will let users create avatars (which look a heck of a lot like Miis on the Nintendo Wii) and invite their friends to a “Live Party.” The Netflix partnership means that users can also invite their friends to watch movies with them too — something that has a few attendees here pretty excited.

“I like the idea of being able to be in a game, talking with friends and someone will say something like ‘I’ve never seen Office Space.’ And thinking that I could go, stop the game and make that person watch ‘Office Space’ with me,” says Edie Sellers, contributor to podcast site GameHounds.

Netflix has been like a pure virginal daughter to us at The Consumerist. We feel as if Microsoft, the biggest slimeball in town, is whisking away our daughter for a wild trip to Vegas where we know she will ultimately be deflowered. Their union fills us with worry and a sense of dread which emanates from the pit of our stomach. Don’t you hurt our daughter, Microsoft, or we’ll f’ng kill you.

Microsoft partners with Netflix on Xbox Live [MSNBC]
(Photo: Getty)

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  1. Norsehawk says:

    Since I already have both a Netflix account and an Xbox Live account, all this seems to really let me do is do without the vmcnetflix plugin.

  2. koath says:

    I have the Xbox Live account but I don’t have Netflix. For some reason I’ve stayed with Blockbuster which is probably do to my movie addiction. This is the perfect opportunity for me to give Blockbuster the boot.

  3. warloc66 says:

    @Norsehawk: Same here, and vncnetflix is kinda slow. I was hoping they would announce this.

  4. Doug Nelson says:

    The ability to watch a movie simultaneously with someone else is kinda cool. I have friends all over, and maybe we’d try this.

    Do you need the gold membership just to view movies? I read in another blog that the gold membership is only necessary for the share-with-friends feature.

  5. afrix says:

    Confused here. On the one hand:

    “The (unholy) union means that starting this fall, Xbox users will be able to watch streaming videos from Netflix’s collection, however, they may only select from the 10,000 movies and shows which are available online and not the complete DVD library which includes some 100,000 titles.”

    OK….so Xbox users can’t get DVDs sent to their homes.

    On the other hand:

    “Naturally, they will also need a Netflix membership, but it has to be above the base $4.99 membership level. “

    Ummm…..

    If they have the $8.99 Netflix membership (the minimum required), they CAN get DVDs mailed to their home. One at a time, unlimited per month.

    So the first bit isn’t true at all, that they have access ONLY to streaming movies and not DVDs.

    For $50/year, all this does is allow the user to leverage the game console he already has hooked up to his TV instead of, for example, buying a Roku box and having yet another (small) box hooked to his TV.

    The Roku box is a one-time purchase, while the Xbox thing is $50/year for the privilege.

    If you’re already a Gold member (hehehehe), no big deal–but if not, why spend $50/year instead of just buying the Roku box?

    Or just watch your movies on a Wintel box…

  6. krunk4ever says:

    @afrix: The Roku box is a one-time purchase, while the Xbox thing is $50/year for the privilege.

    If you’re already a Gold member (hehehehe), no big deal–but if not, why spend $50/year instead of just buying the Roku box?

    Assuming you already pay for a Xbox Live Gold Subscription to games online, then these extra feature comes to you for free. I doubt people would go out, purchase an Xbox 360 and pay for a gold subscription just to watch Netflix on their TV.

    Another benefit is that Xbox 360 is HD ready, meaning it can output at 1080p. Currently Netflix doesn’t have any 1080p content, but that doesn’t mean it won’t in the near future. When that time comes, your Roku box will still only be able to output 480p while the Xbox 360 will be able to do 1080p.

    Just like when Netflix offered “free” streaming videos to their members, it is NOT free to ALL, just their subscribers. Therefore this is “free” in the sense it’s a free bonus feature for existing customers of box Xbox Live Gold and Netflix. Otherwise, you’d be paying extra money for this service.

  7. afrix says:

    Absolutely true, if you’re already a Gold member.

    BTW, the Roku box is HD ready as well. See their web site.

    I joined Netflix specifically for the streaming thing, once the Roku box came out. Nine bucks a month for a premium channel I can program? It was a no-brainer.

  8. ogunther says:

    Netflix has been like a pure virginal daughter to us at The Consumerist. We feel as if Microsoft, the biggest slimeball in town, is whisking away our daughter for a wild trip to Vegas where we know she will ultimately be deflowered. Their union fills us with worry and a sense of dread which emanates from the pit of our stomach. Don’t you hurt our daughter, Microsoft, or we’ll f’ng kill you.

    Too funny. While I don’t know that I agree that Microsoft is the biggest slimeball, I do have to say that I understand your trepidation.

    To all those that are trying to argue that this is “free”: you are just buying into their marketing bs. This is not “free”, it is only an added feature to those that already pay for both subscriptions. Don’t be marketing chumps, be intelligent consumers. I don’t have any issues with those that wish to take advantage of the situation and get another feature for their money; nor do I have issue with those that are excited at this idea as I count myself among you (I may even start my Netflix account back up just to start taking advantage of this) but please don’t mistake “added value” for “free”. They are two completely different things and (imho) that is the whole point of Jay’s post.

  9. thrillwill says:

    I should also point out that the content on Netflix’s ‘Watch Instantly’ is pretty weak too. 30 Rock and Kojak are about the only things on there I’ve found worth watching.

    Still a cool service though. They just need to add more stuff – movies especially.

  10. ScubaSteveKzoo says:

    @thrillwill: Check out Weeds and Dexter if you haven’t already. Those are worth the price of admission.

  11. MayorBee says:

    Netflix has been like a pure virginal daughter to us at The Consumerist.

    Except for the whole throttling thing, right? So maybe a more apt description would be “Netflix has been like a slighty used, sloppy seconds, born-again virginal daughter to us at The Consumerist.” I know Blockbuster gets slammed more than Netflix, and rightfully so, but to call her virginal? How about some truth in advertising. :)

  12. xmarkd400x says:

    This seems like a really good move by MS. In my opinion, Microsoft has the premier Media Center software/hardware package. You can set up a Media Center in another room, connect it to your XBOX 360 over wireless (No loud fans/obtrusive towers in living room). Now you can get Netflix via the same methods.

    Microsoft is, again in my opinion, taking the Media Center market seriously. And crushing it.

  13. FrankTheCrank says:

    “We feel as if Microsoft, the biggest slimeball in town”

    Precious. And yes, they are.

  14. chrisjames says:

    What would this do to hurt Netflix? It’s just adding more ports into the Netflix online service. I’m sure they’ve made sure that this is logistically possible before agreeing, and it couldn’t hurt the mail service. I doubt Microsoft forced their hand either, or could force it in the future. They’re just sharing capabilities that each company is responsible for.

    The only thing you have to worry about is if your daughter’s already a whore. Then, it’s too late.

  15. MMD says:

    Great. Now we’ll probably never get Watch Instantly on the Mac…

  16. Cupajo says:

    Netflix isn’t so pure. Microsoft isn’t so demonic.

  17. RandomZero says:

    @krunk4ever: I wouldn’t hold my breath waiting for that streaming 1080p content. By my math, it’s not physically possible with an Xbox360. 1080p at the lowest viable standards (24 fps, 24 bpp) eats more than the bandwidth available on 100 mbit ethernet, under MPEG-2. To my recollection, the Xbox don’t do gigabit, and I KNOW it doesn’t do draft 802.11n.

    (The math is simple. 1920 pH * 1080 pV * 24 bpp * 24 fps / 6 [compression] / 1048756 b/Mb = 189.81 Mb/sec.)

    So no, that’s of no use at all. This is a neat consolidation for those who already have both accounts, but otherwise hardly the free service they’re advertising.

  18. RandomZero says:

    Worth noting: From the scant information on Roku’s website, this physical limitation appears to be a problem on the Roku box as well. They don’t state the Ethernet speed, which is usually a good bet it’s 10/100, and wireless is b and g only. furthermore, Roku gets kinda sleazy in a couple of places, first by claiming on the frontpage for the box that you can “Enjoy unlimited hours of entertainment for the one-time purchase price of $99.99″, with no mention of a Netflix subscription, then by claiming that “The Netflix Player by Roku is HD-ready. Netflix is working to make movies and TV episodes available in HD. When they are ready, your Netflix Player by Roku will also be ready.”

    Either that’s a bald-faced lie, or it’s gonna be the crappiest definition of “HD” ever, or they’re going to give you a brand new gigabit-capable box, or it’s gonna be less than 1080p AND they’re banking on your connection being more efficient than they ever are in the real world. No matter what, it’s highly deceptive.

  19. EndlessMike says:

    You can already stream HD movies from XBL (albeit 720p) with a short period of buffering (seriously, it’s usually no longer than a minute for me), so this should be able to work like that, as well. Me, I’m excited. I rarely use the Instant Watch feature because I don’t enjoy watching movies on my computer. At best, I’ll have a TV show running in the background, and even that’s rare.

  20. k6richar says:

    Soon netflix will come with windows only DRM. Just like the Bell Video Store did.

  21. GearheadGeek says:

    @RandomZero: 720p is HD. In fact, the vast majority of HD sets are really only capable of DISPLAYING 720p content, they downconvert 1080i to 720p. When you have 720 (or more commonly, 768) lines of physical resolution on the display, all the input resolution in the world is only as good as your video processor that is busily downconverting it to match the panel.

    Short of buying a $7k set, you’re better off these days getting a high-quality 720p LCD or plasma display that has a good video processor than buying a 1080p panel to watch your 720p and 1080i content (all that’s actually available in native content at the moment, upconverting DVD players notwithstanding.)

  22. ionerox says:

    @afrix: I take it to mean that the only movies available for streaming were those that were already made available for streaming by Netflix- and not the movies that were only DVD. Not that the Netflix user could not only stream movies using their XBox and never get a DVD through the mail again. I think you’re reading into it too much.

  23. fearuncertaintydoubt says:

    @RandomZero: Gigabit to play HD? What? Your math is way, way off. These guys claim to give 1080p in 3.5Mbps (and 720p in 1.5Mbps). Let’s say Netflix’s compression is terrible, and they need 5Mbps at the top end — that’s still 50%/5% of a 10/100 connection bandwidth (802.11g is 54Mbps also).

    Wherever did you get the idea that one needed a Gigabit internet connection to stream HD video?

  24. adamsummers says:

    I have to say that I would be pretty excited about this, but my 360 RRoD’d yet again over the weekend. I hope Sony pulls a similar deal.

  25. howie_in_az says:

    But will Xbox 360 owners be able to hear the streamed movies over the sound of their 360? :P

    HD movies, I’ve been told, come out to be around 4.5gb with [hx]264 encoding. I wouldn’t want to stream this, I’d want to download it and play it off the harddrive.

  26. JennQPublic says:

    I have to add, I only paid $40 for 13 months of xBox (about $3 a month). Thanks Newegg!

  27. Erwos says:

    @RandomZero: That math is WAY off. Blu-Ray tops out at 100mb/s, and I think the average bitrate is more like 30-50mb/s or so. You can get very, very good ratios with compression, much better than the “six times the savings over a string of BMPs!” you’re claiming.

  28. jackal676 says:

    You can watch streaming movies on Netflix with the $4.99 subscription (which is what I have), but you are limited to 5 hours of viewing per month.

  29. mavrc says:

    @k6richar: “Soon?”

    As far as I know, Netflix on demand has been Windows-only since its inception.

  30. Shrink_Ray_Bandit says:

    @RandomZero:As with the previous posts, the math is all wrong, but even so, don’t you remember this thing we used to do 10 years ago called buffering? I bet you could buffer an HD movie faster than they could snail mail it to you.

  31. Shrink_Ray_Bandit says:
  32. Shrink_Ray_Bandit says:

    sorry, 2003*

  33. LJKelley says:

    Consumerist, you FAIL with this post big time. I like others do not see how expanding the devices that Netflix can stream too will hurt them in anyway, and this is a great feature for Xbox Live Gold considering everyone complains that the $50 doesn’t give them enough back (whatever folks).

    And calling Microsoft a slimeball is a huge insult to all those people that have been physically cheated by Countrywide/Bank of Ameria or Best Buy or Comcast. Microsoft did the right thing with the 360 and has really owned up and stood up anywhere it could with the 360.

  34. sean77 says:

    It’s just a shame that Office Space isn’t available to Watch Instantly.

  35. Shadowman615 says:

    *sniff*

  36. Shadowman615 says:

    *looks woefully at his ps3*

    (sorry, hit enter too soon there)

  37. Javert says:

    Actually, as one of the folks with both, this is pretty sweet. It is correct that the selection of movies on Netflix is not great at this time, they are doing quite a good job keeping up with TV shows which is pretty cool.

    I don’t see how this pure evil though? I have had really really bad experiences with Apple and yet never Microsoft nor bestbuy…crazy, crazy world.

    Plus, I think this will play strongly into Microsofts strategy of snagging things up. It was either them or Sony and from what I have read on these boards, Sony is not too popular either.

  38. DantePD says:

    Seems like a sweet deal to me. I’ve got both services anyway.

  39. synergy says:

    There’s always someone who pipes up with the throttling thing. Sheesh. I can’t expect a business to send me more content than it costs to send it to me. Then it’s not a business. It’s a charity.

  40. krunk4ever says:

    @howie_in_az: But will Xbox 360 owners be able to hear the streamed movies over the sound of their 360? :P

    I know you said this jokingly, but given that the noisiest part of the 360 is the spinning disc drive, I doubt downloading and watching content from Netflix would be noisy at all. If there’s no disc, the Xbox 360 is relatively quiet.

    They’re also introducing the capability of caching an entire game on your hdd which will also reduce the noise.

  41. krunk4ever says:

    Also, thank you for all those who backed me up saying it is possible to stream HD content. I was about to start typing about buffering and caching and how Xbox Live Marketplace already also allows you to stream HD content after buffering 20-40% of it, but after reading 5 or 6 posts already stating that point, I did not find a need to back myself up anymore.

    @ogunther: To all those that are trying to argue that this is “free”: you are just buying into their marketing bs. This is not “free”, it is only an added feature to those that already pay for both subscriptions. Don’t be marketing chumps, be intelligent consumers. I don’t have any issues with those that wish to take advantage of the situation and get another feature for their money; nor do I have issue with those that are excited at this idea as I count myself among you (I may even start my Netflix account back up just to start taking advantage of this) but please don’t mistake “added value” for “free”. They are two completely different things and (imho) that is the whole point of Jay’s post.

    I think you misunderstood me as I wasn’t arguing it’s free, but in fact stating it’s generally how “free” is used. If I purchased tires from Costco, I get “free” tire rotations. It doesn’t mean that anyone gets “free” tire rotations at Costco. Some banks offer “free checks”, but only if you have a minimum balance in your checking account. Netflix offers “free” streaming content if you have a subscription to their DVDs. <sarcasm>OMG, IS NETFLIX A SLIMEBALL NOW!?!?! THEY’RE OFFERING FREE STREAMING CONTENT BUT IT REQUIRES ME TO GET A SUBSCRIPTION! THIS IS NOT FREE! THIS IS MARKETING!!!</sarcasm>

    How often do you see “free” with no strings attached? Most “free” stuff comes with conditions/requirements, one which is a membership.

    Is someone actually going to argue that <sarcasm>since they said it was “free”, you shouldn’t even need an Xbox 360 to watch it? Or how else can it be free if I have to pay for an Xbox 360. That’s just absurd.</sarcasm>

  42. afrix says:

    @RandomZero: HD does not mean 1080p. There’s also 1080i, and of course 720p.

    Those aren’t my definitions. Those are industry definitions.

    If they can deliver 720p, they are delivering high def.

  43. vw195 says:

    I’m looking a little wistfully at my PS3… but my sweet 360 is looking good. Xbox you gonna score tonite!

  44. Dyscord says:

    Confused here. On the one hand:

    “The (unholy) union means that starting this fall, Xbox users will be able to watch streaming videos from Netflix’s collection, however, they may only select from the 10,000 movies and shows which are available online and not the complete DVD library which includes some 100,000 titles.”

    OK….so Xbox users can’t get DVDs sent to their homes.

    They mean the movies available for streaming. Netflix doesn’t have their entire library available for streaming yet. If you have a plan above $5, you’re getting dvds shipped to your home anyway.

    This really doesn’t change much if you’re a subscriber of netflix or xbox live. All it means is that you have one more venue to watch streaming movies

  45. mancide says:

    You do not have to be a gold member to watch movies. Apparently you won’t be able to pause or fast forward if you are a “silver” (free) XBOX Live member. Also, for the $50 you pay to Microsoft you are getting other benefits besides just watching Netflix movies. For the most part this was targeted at existing users and making them happy with this union. I doubt they will get a huge influx of new Gold subscribers or XBOX sales from this announcement.

  46. antisan says:

    I’m already upset with Netflix for touting their ‘instant watch’ feature as a huge bonus to the subscription, a feature I’d love to enjoy if it had an option that didn’t require Windows Media Player, which is Windows-only. I suppose an Xbox would be another way to enjoy their Windows-user-oriented-content. As a Mac user and someone much more interested in the Nintendo and Sony consoles, I will be waiting for a competitor to jump in and cater to my market.

  47. SanandaHarujakian says:

    No..

    what they are saying about “may only watch from 10,000 DVDs” is that using only their xbox, they can watch ANY movie within the “Watch Instantly” category, which consists of mostly low-budget and older films. You can still have DVDs mailed to you, you just can’t “watch instantly” them.