Sony has officially launched PlayStation Network (PSN) video delivery service in France, Germany, Spain, and the UK. The service, which was announced earlier this year, is scheduled to roll out in additional European territories in 2010.
The catalogue at launch includes over 2,000 titles available on a rental and/or download-to-own (DTO) basis. Movies can be rented in standard (SD) or high definition (HD), while download-to-own at launch is available in SD only. Content from Fox, MGM, Paramount, Sony, Universal and Warner Bros. is available in all four countries. Titles from Lionsgate and Starz Media are available in the UK only; Disney content is at launch available to rent in Germany and for both rental and DTO in the UK. Rental prices start at EUR1.99/£2.49, while DTO will cost from EUR7.99/£6.99. Downloaded video content can by synced to the PlayStation Portable (PSP).
The newly released PlayStation3 (PS3) Firmware update also features integration with Facebook.
In general, consumers have historically shown little willingness to pay for content consumption on the PC. The Apple iTunes Store (iTS) was the first ecosystem play to offer premium online video content in Europe. Both PSN and Zune propositions will enjoy the advantages of the 'Trojan horse effect' – entering consumer households as a games console. PS3 and Xbox 360 have already built high hardware installed bases, which gives a significant head start to becoming a home entertainment hub.
As Screen Digest previously discussed, none of these three major players is aiming to develop online video proposition into a core profit centre – the roll out of these services is about furthering the reach of their ecosystems, which will in turn drive their core businesses (hardware sales for Apple, software sales for the games consoles).
It is of note that while Sony's PS3 and Microsoft's Xbox 360 are offering a rather similar set of additional features (Facebook integration, online video stores), at the moment in Europe the two companies have taken a different strategy to partnering with third-party video services. Microsoft has partnered Canal plus in France and Sky in the UK to deliver the pay TV operators' content to Xbox Live Gold subscribers. SCEE, by contrast, has to date opted to bring broadcaster's free catch up services to PS3 users (the BBC iPlayer in the UK and, recently, NOS catch-up in the Netherlands). Moreover, unlike Microsoft, SCEE does not aim to leverage additional features to upsell users to paid a subscription service tier.