The ongoing he-said-she-said quarrel between NBC and iTunes over the television network deciding not to renew its agreement to offer shows on Apple’s digital download service has brought attention to the other paid video download services that cater to the mainstream. In addition to Apple’s iTunes, Amazon has Unbox, Blockbuster just picked up MovieLink, BitTorrent went legit with legal movie and TV downloads last February, and Microsoft is making a play with XBox.
Now, Sony wants into the fray.
The Wall Street Journal reports that Sony’s Chief Executive Howard Stringer, “is planning to use Sony’s technology-packed PlayStation 3 and PlayStation Portable videogame machines, along with its Bravia high-definition televisions, to develop products and services to let users download television shows and movies, similar to the way they download music and videos using Apple’s iTunes store and iPods.”
Sony’s PSP sales have been solid and just last week the consumer electronics manufacturer announced that the first ever video Walkmans will be sold in stores starting this month. Still, Apple’s iPods are clearly dominating the hardware space. Where Sony hopes to make some market share headway is with content.
Just as the company is leveraging its Hollywood connections and behemoth movie studio to put its video-sharing/amateur-contest site Crackle ahead of the competition, Sony will most definitely populate its paid download service with its already vast supply of content. This could easily attract other major studios. Despite the semblance of competition, when it comes to protecting their interests, the film and television industry’s biggest players have a history of sticking together, and would most likely work with one of their kind than Apple.
Of course, a report from Forrester Research from last May says that all of this will most likely not even matter. According to the findings, ad-supported and subscription models are going to win out in online video, not paid downloads.
But if costs get too high or the space becomes too divided, there’s always the fast-transaction, no-cost world of torrents, where you can nearly always find exactly what you want to watch.