Netflix playing on Wii 'very soon'?

Tech analyst says he's received confirmation that Nintendo is already testing the movie-streaming service for launch later this year or early next.

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Source: In a post on his blog, tech analyst Dan Rayburn said he'd received confirmation that Nintendo is already testing Netflix streaming for the Wii, with a release possible later this year.

What we heard: In his relatively brief blog entry, Rayburn said he'd received screenshots of Netflix up and running on the Wii. He added that after some effort, he received confirmation that the shots were authentic from someone involved in the project and that Nintendo is testing the Netflix service on its console for release "very soon."

Why go to the movies when the movies can come to you?
Why go to the movies when the movies can come to you?

The rumor of Netflix coming to the Wii is nothing new. In June, Netflix sent out a customer survey to gauge interest in a Wii version of its streaming video service. Months earlier, the company posted a job opening for an engineer to oversee work on a variety of gaming platforms.

Just last month, Netflix CEO Reed Hastings said it was the company's plan to eventually get his movie-rental company's streaming video service on all consoles. And with this week's announcement that Netflix is indeed arriving on the PlayStation 3, Nintendo's latest hardware is the last remaining console without official Netflix support. (Although it's not officially released yet, a Wii-compatible version of the third-party PC program PlayOn is in public beta and allows users to stream video from Netflix, as well as sites like Hulu and YouTube, to Nintendo's console.)

The biggest reason to doubt Rayburn's post is probably in his explanation of the Netflix launch's timing.

"What I'm hearing is that Nintendo originally planned to bring the Netflix service to the Wii before the end of this year, which still might take place, but that Nintendo is also considering holding off on the Netflix service until they release their next generation Wii HD unit in early 2010," Rayburn said.

Like Netflix on the Wii, the rumor of an HD-capable version of Nintendo's hardware has popped up multiple times in the past. Even putting aside the question of whether Nintendo would ever abandon its blue ocean strategy and compete with Microsoft and Sony on one of the biggest advantages their hardware has over the Wii, the "early 2010" time frame seems incredibly soon for the launch of an as-yet-unannounced new console.

However, as Nintendo demonstrated earlier today with the announcement of the DSi LL, the publisher has in large part successfully kept hardware revisions under its hat. Previously, when Square Enix's CEO recently talked about the next Wii, he pegged it as a 2011 release, as did a rumor about the system from last year. In his own note about the possibility of a Wii HD, Wedbush Morgan Securities' Michael Pachter suggested a 2010 launch, though he didn't specify when.

The official story: Representatives with Netflix and Nintendo had not returned requests for comment as of press time.

Bogus or not bogus?: Barring unforeseen technical difficulties, Netflix on the Wii is decidedly not bogus. As for Rayburn, some of the info he's been given is suspect, but the Netflix tidbit isn't so far-fetched.

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