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Sony PlayStation (Games) Entertainment

Sony To Launch PS3 Video Download Service 118

Posted by Soulskill
from the competition-is-a-good-thing dept.
An anonymous reader points out a Los Angeles Times report that Sony is planning on making movies and TV shows available for download through the PS3 "as early as this summer." Sony hopes to make use of the roughly 4 million PS3s already sold in the US to compete with similar services such as XBox Live, which began offering video downloads over a year ago. "One of the service's greatest obstacles may be Sony's own culture. Sony Chairman and Chief Executive Howard Stringer has been battling a corporate silo mentality in which divisions within his company work in isolation, undermining new initiatives. The PlayStation group in Foster City, Calif., has been notoriously aloof. Once, a former executive said, it scuttled plans for a movie subscription service for the PlayStation Portable even though Sony Pictures had supported the initiative. What is more, the company, looking to safeguard its film, television and music holdings, has been an aggressive champion of copyright protection, often, critics suggest, at the cost of technological innovation."
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Sony To Launch PS3 Video Download Service

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  • Just one word (Score:2, Insightful)

    Bandwidth?
    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by esocid (946821)
      How about two words? Traffic shaping?
    • Re:Just one word (Score:5, Insightful)

      by Itchyeyes (908311) on Wednesday April 23, 2008 @04:00PM (#23175362) Homepage
      Why would bandwidth be any more of a problem for the PS3 than it is for Xbox Live, iTunes Store, Netflix, Amazon Unbox, or any of the other contenders in the space?
      • by KDR_11k (778916)
        It's Sony, they'll want everything in 1080p.
        • Re: (Score:2, Informative)

          by Anonymous Coward
          Nah, they support three main download types for the videos on the PSN Store:

          - SDTV
          - 720p
          - 1080p

          I don't see why they wouldn't stick to the same idea for Movie downloads.
      • by aliquis (678370)
        Of regular filesharing. Bandwidth are there to be used, just as RAM are ;D
    • by pooberry (1278210)

      Bandwidth?
      ...from TFA, and common knowledge, Xbox Live has offered HD movie and television downloads for a year and a half. With 10 milion 360s out there. Bandwidth is important concern, sure, but it's been proven possible.
    • by Dan541 (1032000)
      Isn't an issue right now I don't see how adding an extra device is going to affect it.

      Unless your on comcast
  • Just like Home was supposed to be out Q4 2007.
    • Re: (Score:2, Funny)

      by elrous0 (869638) *
      "Will Be, Someday" should be the official motto of the PS3.
  • by spazdor (902907) on Wednesday April 23, 2008 @03:56PM (#23175332)
    This might be the service that finally puts net neutrality into perspective. Previously all the arguments about bandwidth availability and the ethics of throttling have conflated legitimate use with piracy. But the crux of the argument has been mostly hypothetical up until about now; A legal, widely deployed IP video-on-demand service will put the TV content providers into a very clear conflict of interests; it will be interesting to see how they plan on treating this traffic.
    • by Itchyeyes (908311) on Wednesday April 23, 2008 @04:04PM (#23175432) Homepage
      Why would this be the one to put it in perspective? Xbox Live Video Marketplace has been out for over a year, and there are more Xbox 360's in homes than there are PS3's. If lawmakers and lobbyists chose to ignore the Xbox 360 (not to mention the plethora of other online video providers) as a legitimate use of heavy bandwidth, the PS3 isn't even going to register as a blip on their radar.
      • by chaim79 (898507)

        there is a bit of a difference, not all 360's have hard drives (and are therefore unable to take advantage of downloaded content), but all PS3's have hard drives (minimum of 40gb), therefore all PS3 owners who have the PS3 connected to the internet using a high-speed connection would be able to take advantage of this service.

        Netflix (and any other computer based media download service) is computer only at the moment, while nice not many people like watching movies on their PC while their TV sits unused

        A

        • Re: (Score:2, Informative)

          by Itchyeyes (908311)
          A) True, not all 360's have hard drives. However, there have been 3 times more 360's sold than PS3's and approximately 80% of 360's do have hard drives, so there are still more 360's with hard drives out there than there are PS3's.

          B) People may prefer watching shows on their TV to their PC, but that doesn't mean they won't settle for their PC is services for their TV aren't available, which is currently the case. According to Job's Jan 2008 keynote, Apple has sold 125 million TV shows and 7 million movies
          • by powerlord (28156)

            B) People may prefer watching shows on their TV to their PC, but that doesn't mean they won't settle for their PC is services for their TV aren't available, which is currently the case. According to Job's Jan 2008 keynote, Apple has sold 125 million TV shows and 7 million movies. That's a lot of content for just those 200k Apple TV's out there.

            I'd be willing to bet that most (if not all), of the TV shows that apple sold are for iPod use. Everyone I know who watches iTunes content downloads them to their iP

          • by donaldm (919619)

            True, not all 360's have hard drives. However, there have been 3 times more 360's sold than PS3's and approximately 80% of 360's do have hard drives, so there are still more 360's with hard drives out there than there are PS3's

            I suggest you do some more homework. The Xbox360 is currently about 11.53M in the US compared to the 4.65M for the PS3 (approx 2.5 to 1). However the US is not the world and if you take the rest (including Japan) overall Xbox360 sales are lagging behind the PS3. Basically at the moment the Xbox has sold 18.35M world wide to the PS3's 11.92M (check it out here [vgchartz.com] and since the Xbox360 has been out a year longer this does not look good for the console.

            People may prefer watching shows on their TV to their PC.

            I don't disagree on that however many more people like to

          • Where the hell do you get 3 times? A quick look at VGChartz shows 18.35M for XBox and 11.92M for PS3
            • by Itchyeyes (908311)

              Where the hell do you get 3 times? A quick look at VGChartz shows 18.35M for XBox and 11.92M for PS3

              Those are worldwide numbers.

              All you fanboys need to chill out. Go back and read the actual discussion and you'll see that we're not talking about "teh console warz". We're talking about whether or not the introduction of the PS3 video download service will affect US net neutrality policy.

              Now, I realize I might not have been spot on with 3 times as many consoles as you have all been so eager to point out. However the point of my argument remains the same whether there are 1.8 times as many, 2.5 times as

      • Amazon unbox has also allowed downloads direct to Tivos for a while now.
    • They'll say this: "Pay us a premium or your packets get the slow lane".
    • A legal, widely deployed IP video-on-demand service

      You mean like Xbox Live Marketplace?

    • by aliens (90441)
      Or how about if Sony makes the service run over a P2P client on the PS3.

      Sounds like an interesting fight to me!
  • by davejenkins (99111) <slashdot@davejenkin s . c om> on Wednesday April 23, 2008 @04:00PM (#23175370) Homepage
    FWIW, most large Japanese corporations try to silo their divisions as much as possible. Often, large companies will silo a division, until it becomes 'self sufficient' with it's own P&L, and then the parent company will spin it off into quasi-independence. This forces middle managers to be as efficient as possible, but obviously costs somewhat in corporate-wide leveraging-- leveraging usually comes in the form of cheap capital and maybe shared real estate, but not much beyond that.
    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by dreamchaser (49529)
      There are pros and cons to that approach. The big benefit is that the silo's can operate more flexibly and often can react faster to changing market conditions. The biggest con is the one you pointed out, the lack of 'synergies'
  • They don't mention it at all, but I'd be interested to know on what format and quality they think they can manage to release these episodes and movies. No way in hell will any movies be blu-ray quality, 8+gig 780p, or even good DVD quality. Possibly for tv episodes that might be compressed down to ~300Mb, but I'd guess movies will be in the range of 600-800Mb, but questionable on the format. Maybe if Sony hears of complaints from end-users about network tampering, they'll support some sort of net neutrality
    • by CriX (628429)
      I just downloaded a 1.1GB Turok demo on my PS3 the other day. It took longer to install than it did to download. I think they should make 5+ Gig movies available. You start downloading them in the morning or afternoon if you want to watch them that night. Seems fine to me.
    • by Eivind (15695)
      Dunno. The PS3 -currently- have downloadable demos and smaller games. Many of the downloadable demos are aproximately 1GB.

      Nevertheless they work fine. Download swiftly and with no apparent capacity-problems. And those are free, so probably the average demo is downloaded more than the average movie would be. Also the fact that the movies are for-pay should allow Sony to beef up whatever arrangement they use for serving the data.

      A bigger problem could be disk-capacity. 40GB ps3s will fill up in short order if
  • by Whuffo (1043790) on Wednesday April 23, 2008 @04:04PM (#23175414) Homepage Journal
    When this service finally launches it'll have DRM so restrictive you'll have trouble watching the movie. Their DRM will also be totally incompatible with any other implementation and completely unsupported by any non-Sony device.

    After a few months of low sales and unhappy customers, they'll write it off. They'll blame the failure on poorly educated consumers.

    Keep in mind that Sony Pictures and Sony Electronics are two different divisions of the same company. It's an unhappy marriage; what makes Pictures happy makes Electronics unhappy and vice versa. As these two opposing points of view seek to find consensus some very awkward compromises are made. See any Sony product that does anything with online digital media content for a good example.

    Of course, while Pictures and Electronics battle it out they aren't paying much attention to what their market is asking for. Look how long it took for them to finally support MP3 format in their portable music players; while they fiddled the market went a different way and - well, the people who made the Walkman famous aren't even on the radar in portable music players these days.

    Maybe they've learned something and they'll do this one right. Reality check: now many PSP owners are going to buy movies from Sony that can only be watched on the PSP? I suspect this product may not actually be profitable...

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by Cheeko (165493)
      Indeed the best thing MS might have going for it was their eventual inclusion of Divx in their media connector.

      IF Sony pushes DRM as much as some suspect it will kill this before it even starts, as people won't be able to mix and match formats they have from various places.

      I never bothered with the MS content downloads or the iTunes downloads or any of the others, but I've sure as hell loaded up Divx-ed episodes of TV shows over my network to watch on my TV stored on my PC. Thats really the model Sony need
    • by Dutch Gun (899105)
      My favorite part of the article:

      "Sony has this blessing and curse of [having] some of the world's smartest intellectual property lawyers, who've never built or marketed a product in their life, who are good at saying, 'no,' " said Richard Doherty, senior analyst at consultancy Envisioneering Group in Seaford, N.Y. "The sun never sets on the Sony lawyers, they're around the world, in Tokyo, London, New York."

      A blessing? I suppose if you consider the ability to sue the living bejezus out of someone at the drop of a hat, then I guess so...

    • Sony has the content. This gives it a huge leg up on XBox.

      Trying to move video to portable devices has been, by an large, a total failure. Look at TV and video on Cellphones as an example.

      A PSP/PS3 DRM'd combo could be as big as Apple's iPod and iTunes. What it would take is a program like MIRO to tie into the existing Sony catalog as well as Internet sources. Add similar functions under a music tab to Itunes and maybe a Rapshody or Pandora capability and you've got a serious threat to Apple.

      Then i

      • by Tony Hoyle (11698)
        If they can get into proper non-US video downloads before anyone else then they're onto a winner. Xbox live last time I used it (admittedly in November) had only a single episode of southpark for download.. itunes download is still mostly music plus the inevitable selection of pixar demos and about half a dozen programmes that have about 5 viewers between them - at £3 an episode (hence the apple TV doesn't really sell here - the local apple store has it switched off in a corner, because there's nothi
    • Yeah, and that unhappy marriage gave birth to that unhappy format which eventually lost, HD DVD... oh wait.
  • As consumers are beginning to learn, why are movies that are being bought provided as a service? If you're going to DRM, you either offer all movies available to a collection at a flat rate, with the monthly fee as the right to access such collection--otherwise you don't. You either sell an album or you sell the right to listen to it.

    DRM'ed marketplaces claim you are "buying" an album, but the reality is that DRM gives you the right to use it until they turn off their DRM servers. They need to advertise

  • I always felt that Sony could have been one of the few companies to really compete with Apple, not just in the mp3 market, but in streaming technology as well. They had the content, they had the technological know how, they had money and they had a pretty sizeable custome base to work with. But, while one of their divisions gives us the tools to rip discs and stream media from one Sony device to the other, they then turn around and make the consumers out to be the bad guys for using their hardware as they i
  • Good move (Score:5, Insightful)

    by tknd (979052) on Wednesday April 23, 2008 @04:07PM (#23175476)

    I think this is a great move for Sony because it sets them up to move to digital downloads if the competition is fierce but also packages Blu-ray into the same device. Either way, they win the movie-rentals and movie-player game.

    Compared to something like the Apple TV, the PS3 is superior if Sony can push out their movie rental service soon. If the PS3 supported movie download rentals, you would have the best of both worlds in one device. Want to rent a (high def) movie from the store or netflix? Play it on your PS3. Want to rent a movie download? Play it on your PS3. It may sound funny, but I've been considering buying the PS3, not because of the game console features, but because of the movie download potential and the bluray player. Hell, if they had a PS3 that came with a remote instead of a controller, I'd probably buy that instead.

    Oh and BTW, the PS3 does run linux!

    • Re: (Score:2, Informative)

      by dafing (753481)
      ps3 has a bluetooth remote.
    • Oh and BTW, the PS3 does run linux!

      Yes, the PS3 does, but will Sony allow any software to play these files while you're booted in YellowDog or CentOS or whichever flavor of Linux they promote for the PS3? Or will they restrict these videos for when you're running on their OS?
  • ... It'll have about 10 movies available, all of which are either 10 years old or massively out of date. And the price won't be competitive with your local Blockbuster.

    YMMV, this is from the perspective of a UK user. Maybe in the US you get a decent selection at a decent price?
    • by trdrstv (986999)
      The US gets a great (and frequently updated) selection. Price however is debatable. I'm not a fan of Renting movies from the service, I would rather they offered an option to "buy" it like they do for TV shows (even if it cost more than their current rent prices).
      • I couldn't find anything in the article stating if you buy the movies or rent. That's a big deciding factor for me as well. I don't use the Xbox Live movie rentals because I want to buy the movies, like M$ allows for the TV shows.
    • exactly, in the US they have a huge selection of TV shows and movies, but here in Canada there are only a handful, not that I would download them anyways....no HDTV and that's what torrents are for (the TV shows, which aren't illegal to download)
    • The difference being that Sony has a movie picture arm that has the content to supply this, while Microsoft has to work with industry partners. Sure, you might not get all of the movies out there until they get agreements with all the studios, but you'll get something at least :)
  • by dalmiroy2k (768278) on Wednesday April 23, 2008 @04:21PM (#23175600)
    This is great news for people in developing countrys with little or no HDTV content available and download (pirated) HD content that can't be otherwise obtained, specially HD shows like Lost or T:TSCC.
    At least here in Argentina a lot of people have HDTV-ready TV sets, high-end PCs or next-gen consoles but we don't have HD supported cable, Directv or even a OTA digital tv format (We may get ATSC as standard next year).
    If we could get HD downloads for cheap (let's say $2 an episode) I would gladly pay it.
    Same thing for movies, imported from USA Blu-ray movies cost 60 dollars here and there is no local production like DVDs yet.

    Postdata: I know Apple TV/Itunes has been doing this for a few months, but this device it's not popular over here. PS3 is.
    • by GrayCalx (597428)
      If we could get HD downloads for cheap (let's say $2 an episode) I would gladly pay it.

      I'd guess closer to $8. Just guessing though. But hell if you have to pay $80 for a blu-ray disc... I guess you're still making out.
    • by TheSync (5291) *
      We may get ATSC as standard next year

      To bad Argentina couldn't wait for DVB-T2 [dvb.org], but on the other hand there should be a ton of reasonably good & reasonably priced ASTC 8VSB receivers on the market next year after the US analog shutoff.
    • That's if they allow Argentinian consoles to use the service, a lot of internet sites restrict viewing/purchases by region :/
  • Perhaps it's largely due to what the critics claim; that "The company, looking to safeguard its film, television and music holdings, has been an aggressive champion of copyright protection, at the cost of technological innovation."

    But whatever the case, I think Sony missed a few opportunities to make the PS3 a better suited system for video on demand and the like.

    1. Why only wireless "g" support in them, and not "n"? Wireless "n" support actually makes video streaming possible without drop-outs and pauses
    • by Anonymous Coward
      The PS3 HDD is standard, and can be replaced. There are instructions that come with the console.

      Not so for the 360.
      • by powerlord (28156)
        Not to mention the PS3 has at least 2 USB ports (with 4 on the "upscale" models).

        You can already use an external USB drive to store music, video and picture, there is no reason that they couldn't store DRMed video content on one also.

        They already store DRMed content on "removable" media by allowing you to download purchased content from the PSN Store via the "PC Store" [playstation.com] or PS3 to PSPs. Since all PSPs use MemoryStick Pro Duos for their persistent storage, there is no real difference between using a MS Pro Du
        • by Tony Hoyle (11698)
          DRMed content on external drives might not work simply because of the file size - the only open file format that everyone uses is FAT32.. so that's what Sony uses too on its external drive. That limits you to 2GB/file, which sucks somewhat for hidef stuff.

          I wish they'd enable ext2 or ext3 (hey it's linux under the hood.. can't be *that* hard) but I guess they're thinking about the mass market who wouldn't know how to ext2 format a disk if it was explained to them in crayon. NTFS of course is not possible
          • by powerlord (28156)
            Well a 2'14" video in 720p (unencrypted compressed w/AVC and AAC) takes 96MB.

            Using the back of this napkin (and aiming for rounder numbers to make it easier), so a 9 minute video would take ~400MB.

            That would put a 45 minute video at ~2GB. Easily enough to handle a TV show (not sure what they have).

            For a calculation of SD offerings, they offered the Sony E3 press conf last year (SD only). It has a run time of 1 hour, 35 minutes, 24 seconds, and a size of 1098MB.

            Another possibility though is that it could b
      • by nuzak (959558)
        What's really, um, "cute" about the 360 is that the HDD size is hardwired into the unit. It's not hard to crack open one of those drive thingies for the 360 and put your own drive in it, but if you put a 300G drive in, it'll still only format it to 120G at most. Because that's all the Elite will allow.

        Stick a 300G drive into a PS3, and you get 300G. But Sony seems deathly afraid of actually selling you anything that would fill that space.
        • by powerlord (28156)

          Stick a 300G drive into a PS3, and you get 300G. But Sony seems deathly afraid of actually selling you anything that would fill that space.

          Not sure I'd agree with that.

          I mean, the PSN store has released quite a few download only games, games use the space to cache data, and Sony themselves have announced both PlayTV [wikipedia.org] and this Video download service.

          Not to mention just popping your Sony CD into the drive and ripping it straight to the Hard-Drive. :)

          Sure seems like they're trying to sell you content to fill th

    • 1. Why only wireless "g" support in them, and not "n"? Wireless "n" support actually makes video streaming possible without drop-outs and pauses.

      Because there is no 802.11n standard yet - the estimated date for the final version is June 2009. There are several "pre-N" products available, which implement the draft versions of the 802.11n, but they are generally only compatible within one manufactures product line.

      So, for Sony to make it work, it should have it's on Playstation Router. Also, it would have been very hard to implement a working Pre-N wireless client when PS3 was published in 2006, as the 802.11n standard was in its infancy back then

    • Damn dude, they didn't do to well with the $600 platform, and you'd have them push this into mid range PC pricing. I mean hell, it'd cost at least as much as a cheap laptop, look at all the features! :)

      Cut them some slack at least, it does have Gig E, the regular controllers are BT and can fully control A/V playback, and the hard drive is user-replaceable, with instructions in the manual. Ain't perfect, but I spent enough as it is already.
  • Why not just sign a deal with Netflix to do their Video Streaming feature via the XMB?
    • by AdamTrace (255409)
      Didn't Netflix recently send out some sort of user poll saying "If we teamed up with Sony to offer downloads via the PS3, would you be interested?"

      Maybe a deal has been made...

      http://gizmodo.com/355607/netflix-movie-streaming-coming-to-xbox-360-and-ps3
    • That's what I was hoping for, but this development makes it look quite unlikely now.

      Once Sony has a first-party video rental system in place, I'd say the likelyhood of a competitor using the system is slim to none.
    • Why not just sign a deal with Netflix to do their Video Streaming feature via the XMB?
      Maybe because they also are looking to market to people outside of the US and Netflix is a US based offering?
  • "What is more, the company, looking to safeguard its film, television and music holdings, has been an aggressive champion of copyright protection, often, critics suggest, at the cost of technological innovation.""

    I think this can be summed up by:

    You can't serve mana and Heaven to.

    Sony (the technology part) is doomed by the movie part. To bad , they used to make good stuff.
  • If you can't beat 'em, join 'em.
  • Got to keep these rogue corporate divisions from deviating from the path. Except for Apple. Apple can do its own thing.

  • by Soiden (1029534)
    A Games article that doesn't talk about games.
  • Does anybody know if sony plans to put more 80gb PS3s on the market prior to the Metal Gear Solid release later this year?
  • Yellow dog and a torrent client.
  • by HiVizDiver (640486)
    I have to say that the summary makes sense in at least one area - the design interface seems really half-assed. Coming from a MAJOR corporation like Sony, that would lend credence to the accusation that Sony is in some ways its own worst enemy.

    I admit that I bought the PS3 for one reason - Blu-ray won. I do not own an Xbox360, but I have several friends who do. The difference between the Xbox XBL interface/experience and the Sony XrossMediaBar (worst name ever, btw)/PSN/PSN Store interface/experience is n
  • using yellow dog and pirate bay

    only without the DRM this will clearly have on it
  • I didn't see anyone mentioning this beast [sonystyle.com] at all.

    Basically it's Sony's answer to people who have too much money and not enough common sense. Share's the PS3's XBR system, holds 200 Blu-Ray discs and has a 500GB hard drive. Reading the owner's manual there's a lot to dislike (DRM everywhere), but I can see the people that they are targeting, and it does look 'cool'.
  • I Just bought a ps3 two days ago. I figured it was time as I had plenty of cash on hand and an itching for some call of duty 4 and GTA IV is coming out next week. And Soulcalibur 4 in a month I'm really pissed at Sony. They didn't include any HD cable at all. They didn't include any backwards compatibility, at all. They don't even attempt it in software anymore. I'm still waiting on my HDMI cable but hopefully i'll get some PSubuntu going with Mame to make up for losing all my ps2 games. Bleh. Fuc
    • you dont do research before dropping a few hundred in $local_currency ? that information is easily findable on the tubes.
  • I think a lot of people are still uncomfortable with the concept of paying for games/music/etc without having anything physical to show for it. Especially late adopters [like me].

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