Thursday, July 3, 2008

Sony U.S. to Join Streaming Movie Foray?

According to the Financial Times, Sony will soon be offering movies from its own movie studio as streaming video files online. There are, however, a few catches.

First, the movies will reportedly only be available for download by people who own a Sony BRAVIA LCD TV along with the company's new Internet Video Link accessory. Second, although not really a catch, is that you'll have to pay for the streaming version, which will be available in standard definition format (given current bandwidth restrictions). And third, from the sounds of it, the price you pay for that streaming version will also include a price for the actual DVD. On the bright side, there is one plus: you'll get the streaming version before the physical DVD of the movie is released.

While innovative, I'm a bit skeptical about this arrangement. First, the Financial Times report implies that you can't actually buy a streaming version of the movie instead of the physical DVD, but rather purchase the streaming option as a secondary method of viewing the film along with the actual DVD when it becomes available. Many people choose to stream a movie online because they don't want to have to buy and store a physical DVD, they just want to watch it one time on-the-go, or they want to pay a lesser price. Although no pricing information for the streaming movies was revealed, I'd bet they'll be slightly higher than a standard physical DVD, especially if you're forced to buy that DVD as well.

The second downfall is obvious: you can only stream movies from Sony Pictures. This isn't surprising given other Sony initiatives, like the Sony-specific Memory Stick flash memory cards, proprietary connectors for Sony Ericsson mobile phones, and dare I point out beta? (It's worth pointing out that there are other formats that gain other manufacturer support, like Blu-ray). This system has worked for Sony for some time now, so why not in this new, innovative way to obtain online content? On a positive note, some fantastic movies hail from Sony Pictures. Hancock, starring box office golden boy Will Smith will be the first movie to launch in the new streaming format.

It's important to note that Sony U.S. has not yet made an official announcement about this service, so take this information with a grain of salt. Even so, no such service has been announced for the Canadian market (no surprise there), so it's really a moot point for us Canucks at this time. (Note that the Internet Video Link itself, however, is already available in Canada for $300).

Bookmark and Share

No comments: