Redmond (WA) – I have to admit, I had my doubts about Microsoft’s strategy to turn the Xbox 360 into a universal entertainment console. And when I heard that Netflix streaming would be limited to paying Xbox Live subscribers, I wasn’t quite sure whether the person who sabotaged Microsoft’s Zune strategy with a brown color scheme was back and took a shot at the Xbox. Apparently, I was wrong: Netflix screaming on the Xbox 360 is already a big success.
Microsoft said that 1 million Xbox Live Gold members have downloaded and activated the Netflix streaming application and have watched 1.5 billion minutes of videos since launch. The online video rental service said that 12,000 movies and TV episodes are currently available via streaming.
Of course, we wonder, how much more successful and appealing this feature would be if Netflix streaming was available to all Xbox Live members free of charge (on the Xbox side). It still feels strange to us that Microsoft would actually “charge” for making this feature available (through the Gold membership). However, it seems it is already successful enough and there is little doubt that it is a convincing unique selling point over its rivals - especially Sony’s PS3.
Netflix streaming has been available on the Xbox since November 19 of last year. If you are interested in Netflix streaming, but are hesitant to upgrade to an Xbox Live Gold membership, there are plenty of other options -- like the free streaming features integrated into certain LG TVs and Samsung and LG Blu-ray players, for example - though Netflix fees still apply.