This morning at Microsoft’s E3 Press Event they announced a new partnership with Netflix to bring their streaming movies and TV shows to your TV via an Xbox 360. Essentially, if you have a Xbox Live Gold Membership and a Netflix membership you can access Netflix’s Watch Instantly library through your 360, with no extra charges. In addition, Microsoft announced Mii-like Avatars which will be used on Live. With an Avatar and a Netflix account, you can invite other Live members to watch a movie with you.
Social technology is usually a mixed bag, opening up new ways of interacting with people while generally encouraging us to have less meaningful interactions, and Microsoft’s latest announcement is no different. The experience of watching a film or TV show with someone and discussing it afterward is very enriching. And as Christians, a post-viewing discussion is often necessary. Taking the time to verbalize, interpret, and digest a film with someone else gives us a chance to sort out the worldviews, ideas, and quality presented. One of the most practical ways to truly be in the world but not of the world is to identify with other believers what is “the world” and why (this kind of discussion is one of the main goals of CAPC). If we use this new XBox Live feature to regularly watch movies and shows with our friends instead of having them over, I fear that we might be passing up an extremely encouraging time of dialogue and sharpening each other.
On the other hand, there are some great possibilities this partnership opens up. Personally, this announcement is exciting because my wife and I are about to move out of state, away from all our family and friends. Since we both have many friends who play on Xbox Live, it will be neat to be able to watch movies “together” via Netflix, even if the only conversations we have afterward are through our headsets. In addition, this gives us just one more good reason not to have cable in our house. While there are ads on Live, it is relatively marketing free compared to cable TV.
Considering the great opportunities (if used properly) this new partnership offers Live users, the only frustrating aspect of the announcement for me was that no release date was given.