Aging Consoles Find New Life as Video Streaming Devices

Microsoft's Xbox 360 console is six years old. The Nintendo Wii is five years old, and so is the Sony PlayStation 3. All three are due for an overhaul (can you imagine gaming on a PC that's half a decade old, or more?), and while they're still popular gaming platforms, consoles are really starting to shine as streaming media centers.

According to market research firm Nielsen, streaming video on game consoles is up over last year. Xbox 360 owners now use their consoles to stream video 14 percent of the time, which is almost as much as PS3 users (15 percent). But it's the Wii that sees the most time as a streaming device, with Wii owners using their consoles to stream video a third of the time.

"This growth is fueled by the availability of services like Netflix, Hulu, MLB Network and ESPN3," Nielsen said. "Time spent on game consoles in general is also on the rise. Metered console usage data from the first half of 2011 shows that the three platforms combined are up 7 percent in user time versus the year prior. Taken together, these findings suggest that streaming is incrementally adding to the time users are spending with consoles."

This isn't by accident. Microsoft, for example, just rolled out a major Dashboard update that adds voice-controlled navigation and a bunch of apps related to media content. It's part of a big push to make the 360 a centerpiece in the living room.

Do you own a console, and if so, do you use it to stream video?