In Depth

Column: Netflix Experience Improves TV-Free Lifestyle

I don’t need another box.

I am determined to turn all of my existing television paraphernalia into high-octane machines operating at peak performance to deliver maximum entertainment value to me.

Microsoft's Xbox 360

Microsoft's Xbox 360.

Because you know what happens when you become a cord-cutter? When you snip the cable apron strings and go cable- and satellite programming-free (as I have done for the last several weeks as part of an ongoing experiment to live the broadband-powered life), you learn to hunt and gather.

No more sitting back on the couch and getting fat off the fried food cable feeds me. I’ve got to forage for new means of getting my television and movies.

That’s why last week I installed Netflix on my Xbox 360. Xbox just introduced an upgrade dubbed “Xbox Experience” that lets you now watch movies and television shows streamed from Netflix on your Xbox 360 without waiting for the mailman to deliver a disc.

That means if “Hoax,” “National Treasure 2” or “High Fidelity” are in my queue (they are), all I have to do is turn on the Xbox, toggle through a couple of screens and click on the Netflix option to start playing any of those movies through the Xbox on the TV.

This takes a little bit of elbow grease. You’ll need to download the upgrade on your Xbox—the Xbox will prompt you to do this when you turn it on. The download takes about seven minutes, and then you can watch any movies with “instant watch” capability in your Netflix queue on the Xbox. (You may need to go to Netflix.com and update your queue, but that’s easy.)

The first time you navigate around the new Xbox interface requires a tiny bit of patience, simply because it’s a new interface. But after a few minutes you realize the ability to watch movies instantly and easily via your Xbox is extremely cool and awesome.

Will everyone do this? Certainly not. Will this Netflix-Xbox union drive mass defections from cable and satellite? No.

You have to be motivated to turn the service on. Most consumers won’t make the effort. But those who battle the implacable power of inertia will find a pretty darn good experience from Netflix on the Xbox.

Even though Netflix isn’t a cable service, most consumers who do jettison cable are relying on a combination of Netflix and Internet TV to satisfy their entertainment needs. This latest match makes Netflix an even more attractive entertainment option, so it could tip the scales for younger folks.

Once you get past the fried food buffet, you learn there is a lot out there to nosh on.