Rental service to be available to Wii owners

Netflix has struck a deal with Nintendo to make its video rental service available to Wii owners in the U.S. this spring.

With the deal, Netflix will now be on all of the major videogame consoles.

But the agreement with Nintendo is expected to prove even more important to Netflix, which could boost its membership, considering 30 million Wii consoles have been sold worldwide since the Wii’s bow in 2006. More than 3 million were sold in the U.S. in December alone thanks to a 20% price cut and popular games such as “New Super Mario Bros. Wii.”

Hollywood studios are expected to benefit significantly as well and should earn more coin from the digital rentals of their TV shows and movies through Netflix once Wii owners have access to the service.

Netflix members will be able to access the service through their Wiis by inserting a disc that will be provided by Netflix. Sony’s PlayStation 3 owners need a similar disc; Microsoft’s Xbox 360 owners have instant access through the console.

Nintendo has lagged behind Sony and Microsoft in adding video streaming or downloading services to its console.

The company is said to be developing an HD version of the Wii that may be introduced at the E3 confab in May and will be introduced in time for the holidays later this year.

Our goal is to offer Netflix members as many ways as possible to watch movies and TV episodes streamed from Netflix right to their TVs and to give nonmembers more and compelling reasons to consider the service,” said Netflix co-founder and CEO Reed Hastings in a prepared statement. “Joining forces with Nintendo, which has been so immensely popular with consumers since its introduction, is a very meaningful step in that direction.”

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