Sony Plans for Movie Downloads, Again

Dennis Faas's picture

Rumors emerged earlier this week that Sony would begin offering a video download service for the Playstation 3 (PS3).  The company is also reportedly in talks with the major studios and television networks, providing the third incarnation of the service after the abysmal failures of Movielink (sold to Blockbuster) and Sony Connect (recently discontinued).

Has Sony already squandered its chances? Its main competitor, Microsoft's Xbox 360, already delivers movie and television shows with its Xbox Live service. Then there are the other set-top boxes such as Apple TV and Tivo. (Source:

While few details have been confirmed yet, Peter Dille, Senior Vice President Marketing & PLAYSTATION Network, announced on the Playstation blog that, "ultimately the goal of the PLAYSTATION Network service will be to...give you the TV, movies and gaming content you want." and (Source:

Can the market realistically absorb such a late entry? Perhaps. In Tuesday's blog post, Sony reps announced, "it's already been confirmed that we'll be offering a video service for PS3 in a way that separates the service from others you've seen or used."

According to sources, this could mean that Sony will be offering its downloads as open content, which can then be shared across other devices -- a natural tie-in to Sony's fabulously designed and horrifically under-serviced PlayStation Portable (PSP). Of course, what exactly will be offered as open content remains to be seen. It's highly unlikely that any of the major studios would agree to distributing any of their content without copy protection.

In-home video delivery is a small business compared with the DVD market. However, Xbox Live has a robust business with approximately 10 million subscribers, 350 movies, and over 5,000 TV episodes -- almost twenty-five percent of which is in HD.

Playstation 3 meanwhile, has close to 13 million units in homes worldwide and an historically avid fan base, but whether Sony can build on this momentum depends entirely on content, seamless operability and the ability to support the PSP in addition to the PS3.

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