updated 06:25 pm EST, Tue March 9, 2010
Sony beats Apple to HD on all labels
Sony touted an industry first today as its PSN video service became the first service to get HD movies from all six major studios. Besides its own Sony Pictures, the company's deal will allow buying and renting HD on the PlayStation 3 from Disney, Fox, Paramount, Universal and Warner. No price changes were mentioned as part of the additions, but the agreement is non-exclusive.
All of the newly added content is available today in the US. France, Germany, Spain and the UK will get new studio content in the future.
The win is symbolic for Sony. While its console sales usually trail those of Microsoft and Nintendo, the PS3 remains one of the most popular living room media players as it has often become the default Blu-ray player, even as its Internet movie service trails the popularity of iTunes or the Zune Video Marketplace on the Xbox 360. It recently added Netflix streaming and has been helped by price cuts that now make it more competitive with the Xbox 360, Apple TV and other devices that were previously much less expensive.
The expansion is nonetheless potentially promising for other movie services as it opens doors to similar deals at other locations. Studios have been somewhat hesitant to openly embrace HD movie rentals and sales as they potentially cut into Blu-ray sales, which they still expect will take over from DVD in the near future. Many have extensive deals with movie retailers that are potentially jeopardized by online-only users, and Sony has a partial conflict of interest as it has been the primary creator and supporter of Blu-ray.