While we were excited to hear that VUDU will soon be available on Panasonic Blu-ray players, it came at a cost: Netflix. The delivery of VUDU streaming on the Panasonic VIERA Cast-enabled players requires two pieces: a firmware upgrade, which was made available last night and a back-end server change which is expected to go live on Wednesday. Those who followed Panasonic's suggestion to upgrade their player's firmware today to the 1.43 firmware release were treated to an unpleasant surprise: Netflix streaming no longer works on these players.
Affected players may include the DMP-BD65, BDP-BD85, DMP-BDT100, BMP-BDT300, DMP-BDT350 and DMP-B500. If you are an owner of one of these players and use it to stream Netflix, we recommend that you do not upgrade your firmware until Panasonic has delivered a fix.
We've reached out to our Panasonic contacts in Japan for an update, but we expect that such a major problem will certainly be addressed swiftly by the company. Panasonic is not disabling Netflix streaming, but adding the popular VUDU service as an additional option in VIERA Cast to give their customers more choices in their streaming services. VUDU's 1080p HDX streaming option and 5.1 surround make it the highest quality video streaming service available. Films are available to purchase and to rent via the VUDU service.
Netflix recently added 1080p streaming support as well as Dolby Digital Plus 5.1 surround but so far, these features are only available on Sony's PS3. It is likely that the next round of player announcements at this year's CES will include a batch of players that can take advantage of the new features and performance of Netflix. But these enhancements offer little comfort to Panasonic customers who settled in for some Netflix streaming today and were unhappily surprised by the outage.
Updates to this story will be posted on our forum in the thread on this topic:
Thanks go out to forum user MizNitch for the tip!
UPDATE (11/24): A new firmware update is now available (version 1.51) which we have tested and appears to have fixed the problem. So the total outage was around 48 hours (nice work, Panasonic!).