"Hundreds" of Netflix vids unavailable via Xbox Live

Online rental service confirms licensing issues are temporarily preventing many films from being viewable on updated 360s; online reports point to Sony.

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It appears that the New Xbox Experience has hit a speed bump on the eve of its release. This afternoon, gaming blog Joystiq discovered that many Netflix films have been abruptly listed as being "not available on Xbox." The ability to stream content from the online rental service is a key feature of the Xbox Live revamp, which is set to launch Wednesday, November 19.

Your NXE movie queue just got shorter.
Your NXE movie queue just got shorter.

When contacted by GameSpot, Microsoft directed all inquiries on the matter to Netflix, the DVD rental and video streaming company based in Los Gatos, California. Steve Swasey, its vice president of corporate communications, was able to confirm that licensing issues are indeed preventing some video content from being available via the Xbox 360.

"Today, titles regularly come in and out of license and there is a natural ebb and flow to what we have on license at any given point in time," he explained. "In the case of Xbox 360, a few hundred titles are temporarily unavailable to be streamed via the Xbox game console. Those titles are still available to be watched on subscribers' computers and on TVs via other partner devices, and we hope they'll be licensed for Xbox 360 shortly."

Swasey studiously avoided mention of any film studios which may have licensing issues solely with Microsoft. However, GameSpot has confirmed with sources with access to NXE preview software that many of the unavailable offerings are from Columbia Pictures, a subsidiary of PlayStation 3 maker Sony. Curiously, though, Joystiq points out that some Sony Pictures films are still listed as being available for the Xbox, a condition that might change in the next few days.

Ironically, many classic films from Sony subsidiary MGM are currently available for download on Xbox Live Marketplace--for a price.

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