Netflix on Wii

Netflix instant Streaming and Queue is becoming available on nearly every entertainment and home video device, and the Nintendo Wii is the last of the three major game consoles to get the functionality. Like the Sony PS3, the Nintendo Wii requires a disc to enable Netflix streaming. Now with Nintendo Wii you don’t need the disc in the mail. So you can just start downloading the Netflix application for the Nintendo Wii and start watching instantly.

Hands-on: Netflix on the Wii

Setup and user interface

To get Netflix Queue/Streaming on the Wii, you’ll need to request a disc first or just download the Netflix Application on the Nintendo Wii Download center. For getting netflix queue on Nintendo Wii you just need to launch the Netflix Application on your Nintendo Wii. Once you pop the disc in, the Netflix icon appears in the same window usually reserved for games.

Here is the Press Release that talks about the new and improved Netflix for Nintendo Wii without the disc requirement:

Beginning October 28th, 20101, Netflix members in the United States and Canada can stream content through their Wii™ consoles with Netflix installed on their Wii Menu. The Netflix disc that was used for instant streaming on the Wii console will no longer be required. Netflix members who have a plan starting at $8.99 a month ($7.99 in Canada), a Wii console and a broadband Internet connection can now instantly watch movies and TV shows streamed directly to their TVs by simply downloading Netflix from the Wii Shop Channel. This new channel is available at no extra cost. The new disc-free option installs Netflix on the Wii Menu, making it convenient for Wii owners to quickly access streaming movies and TV shows.

“At this time of year, consumers have a near-insatiable demand for family entertainment,” said Nintendo of America President Reggie Fils-Aime. “And this simplified Netflix access will help bring families together more quickly, more easily and in more ways than ever before. More than 3 million Wii systems have already connected to Netflix, demonstrating how easy the service is to set up and use.”

“Wii is a consummate home entertainment platform and has quickly become one of the best and most popular ways to enjoy movies streamed from Netflix,” said Reed Hastings, co-founder and CEO of Netflix. “The availability of Netflix right on the Wii Menu adds significantly to the ease and convenience that attracts our members to the Netflix streaming experience and is an important step in our efforts to continuously improve the service.”

Wii offers consumers the most fun right out of the box. Precision motion controls, online access and great games are all included at no extra charge. For a suggested retail price of just $199.99 ($209.99 in Canada), Wii owners get:

The Wii console, Wii Sports™, Wii Sports Resort™, a Wii Remote™ controller, a Wii MotionPlus™ accessory and a Nunchuk™ controller
Access* to hundreds of downloadable games in the Wii Shop Channel, including original games like World of Goo and classic games from the NES™, Super NES™ and Nintendo 64™ eras
Access* to a variety of entertainment and informational channels, including the Nintendo® Channel, which provides information about current and upcoming Wii and Nintendo DS™ games
Access* to streaming Netflix movies and TV shows
The Netflix service has been available on the Wii console in the United States since April 12, 2010, and in Canada since Sept. 22, 2010. For more information about how to stream Netflix through a Wii console, visit or

Remember that Wii and Netflix feature parental controls that let adults manage the content their children can access. For more information about this and other features, visit and

* Broadband Internet connection required. Netflix streaming requires Netflix subscription.

Netflix's main interface on the Wii.Netflix’s main interface on the Wii 

The Netflix on Wii interface is somewhat different than we’ve seen on other devices. It shares the same horizontal layout, with cover shots of your movies, but there’s also additional information on the screen, such as runtime, MPAA rating, and star rating–which is Netflix’s best guess as to how much you’ll like the movie. You’ll also notice there’s a slider, which you can “grab” with the Wii pointer to browse your instant queue.

Pressing the trigger button brings up a submenu listing all the sort options.Pressing the trigger button brings up a submenu listing all the sort options. 

Along the top, you’ll see a header that says “Instant Queue,” which is the default sort mode. By pressing up/down on the directional pad, you can switch to other views, including “Recently Watched,” “New Arrivals,” “Movies You’ll Love,” and standard genres like comedy, drama, and sci-fi. Pressing the “B” trigger button brings up a separate menu with all the sorting options. These additional sort modes are especially nice if you haven’t added many titles to your instant queue, as it expands your options without requiring you to break out a laptop and add more movies. It’s not quite as slick as the Xbox 360′s interface, but it’s a significant step up from the Roku HD player’s interface, which is beginning to feel outdated.

Like most things on the Wii, the interface feels intuitive and the point-and-click nature of the Wii remote makes picking a movie dead simple. Anyone that feels comfortable using the Wii will have no problem using Netflix streaming.

Here is the Press

Video quality

Unlike the majority of devices with Netflix streaming, the Wii is limited to standard-definition playback. We conducted our hands-on using the 480p output mode and a component video cable, which is a step up from the standard composite cable included with the Wii.

Because the Wii isn’t known for it’s graphics capabilities, we were expecting a significant drop off in streaming quality, but we were pleasantly surprised. “Pan’s Labyrinth” is one of the better-looking streaming titles, and although it looked softer on the Wii, it was definitely watchable with minor compression artifacts. When we looked at the same title on the PS3, we noticed that colors were richer and there was more detail, but it was relatively subtle. We’re sure the difference in image quality would be larger had we used the standard composite video cable included with the Wii, but that’s a limitation of the cable, not the Wii.

Standard caveats

As we mentioned before, the biggest caveat with Netflix on the Wii is that you’ll need to insert the disc every time you want to use the feature. (This is likely a workaround because of a rumored exclusivity deal Netflix has with Microsoft.) Also, just like with every streaming Netflix device, you’re limited to the titles Netflix has in its “Instant Streaming” catalog, which is much smaller than its catalog of DVDs for rent. It’s also worth pointing that the Nintendo Wii doesn’t come with an Ethernet port (although you can buy an add-on adapter), so your wireless network has to be up to the task of streaming video. Our Wii was connected wirelessly to our 802.11G home network for this test and we didn’t have any issues.


Overall, Netflix streaming is a solid upgrade for Wii owners, especially if it’s the only Netflix-capable device in their home theater. On the other hand, even though we liked the point-and-click interface, we’d opt to use a home video device with HD output if its available. Now that Blu-rays players, HDTVs, DVRs, and game consoles frequently come with Netflix, it’s likely the Wii won’t be your first choice for streaming.

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