Tuesday’s news from E3 comes a day after Microsoft’s confirmation of its Netflix hookup for streaming video via Xbox Live.
While the Netflix service begins next month, the Play Station Network (PSN) videos are flowing now, using the existing login and “wallet” system. No firmware update is required. The network’s interfaces have been overhauled.
Sony says it’s launching with 300 movies and 1,200 TV episodes; the pre-existing Netflix streaming rental service has some 10,000 titles. The Xbox Live Marketplace also has a separate library of titles for sale.
Both the Sony and Microsoft video moves had been foreshadowed, but the confirmations are big news in both the download/streaming business and the game console world.
Studios providing sell-though (sales) titles to the PS3/PSP chain are Sony Pictures Entertainment (of course), Fox/MGM, Paramount, Lionsgate and Warner Bros. Disney titles such as “Pirates of the Caribbean” are available for rentals.
Pricing and rental policies will look familiar: Movie purchases from $9.99 to $14.99; rentals from $2.99 to $5.99. Renters have 14 days to watch the content. Once content playback is started, the clock ticks on a 24-hour self-destruct mode.
Downloads are progressive, meaning viewers can watch as the video content is delivered, similar to viewing a just-started recording on a TiVo.
The combined announcements by the makers of the PS3 and Xbox 360 mean the movie downloading and video streaming distribution channels have become significantly wider.
Sounds fantastic, but it’s not hard to imagine these black (and off-white) boxes moving quickly beyond their game-console beginnings, as to some extent PS3 has started to do with the popularity of its Blu-ray drive.
“The PS3 helped drive Blu-ray to victory and now Blu-ray is ready to return the favor,” Sony’s Jack Tretton said at the E3 presentation. “The story of the year is Blu-ray winning the format war, and PS3 is the best Blu-ray player on the market.”
Wherever these consoles are headed, it looks like Hollywood is game.