Sony Computer Entertainment Inc. (SCEI) plans to make available content for video rental and electronic sale from several movie studios including: 20th Century Fox, Lionsgate Entertainment, MGM Studios, Paramount Pictures, Sony Pictures Entertainment, Warner Bros. Entertainment and Walt Disney Studios as well as a variety of television producers from both the networks and cable channels. Sony is also producing original content for download.
Jack Tretton, President and CEO, Sony Computer Entertainment America (SCEA) offered the following comments on the PSN video download service: "[The] PlayStation Network’s video delivery service capitalizes on the superior value and entertainment potential of PS3 and PSP – not only for gaming enthusiasts, but also for the millions of consumers looking to buy the best, most versatile solution for their home entertainment system. The collaboration of Sony’s film, TV and entertainment business units, coupled with our hardware and content offerings, provide consumers with entertainment experiences unlike any on the market."
The video delivery service is built into the redesigned PlayStation store, and is offered under a new tab labeled "video." PS3 owners can flip between the game and video sections of the store and purchase content from both sides using the same log-in information and payment system. Videos are categorized several different ways, ranging from release date, title, genre, and popularity.
The PS3 offers progressive downloading, meaning users can view content shortly after the downloading process begins. Background downloading allows users to start a download of a video or game, then leave the PlayStation store and continue to use their PS3 to play games or access other features while the content continues to download to their hard drives.
The rental system has an interesting timing scheme. Once customers download rented videos they have 14 days to watch them. However, once a video is watched for the first time, the customer has 24 hours in which they can watch it as many times as they want. So let's say someone rented Clockwork Orange but waited three days to watch it. Once they watched it their rental would expire in 24 hours. Videos can be shared on multiple systems including the PS3 and PSP. Both rentals and purchased video can be transfered from the PS3 to the PSP to be watched portably.
The PS3's video service is robust, and it does have a large variety of content, however, it is not without flaw. One of the glaring oversights is the lack of ability to download an entire season of a TV show or anime series. You must select, purchase or rent, and download episodes one by one. Needless to say, this is quite a hassle for a 24 episode season of Desert Punk or Family Guy. Additionally, the 24 hour viewing period is shorter than most video store rentals. Finally, while the mix of videos is eclectic, one has to wonder why only recent seasons of some shows are available, and why most of the movies seem targeted right at young men (three Robocop movies?).
Videos are, regardless, a welcome addition to the PlayStation store. No doubt it will be a popular service and one that will improve over time.