Sony and Amazon team up to deliver video everywhere

Posted by Christian Zibreg

Los Angeles (CA) - As part of its "video everywhere" strategy, Sony plans to marry Internet-equipped Bravia HDTVs with Amazon's new video-on-demand service to fight off increasing pressure from set-top box vendors. It is another try to convince consumers of the benefits of video-on-demand (VoD). No matter how you look at it, VoD looks like a matter of time and the days of your local video store may be counted. Even the recently more and more visible video kiosks may be sailing into an uncertain future.

According to the New York Times, Amazon has quietly started testing its new video on demand (VoD) service that offers 40,000 movies and other TV content for Macs and PCs. Unlike iTunes, all content offered is streaming-based, although the service is believed to be supporting downloads in the future as well. Streaming is less prone to piracy and this fact apparently has helped Amazon to garner support from most major studios, except Disney which has close ties to Apple. Movies purchased on Amazon's service can be immediately streamed not just to the computer used for the purchase of the service, but to any streaming-capable device that can login to user accounts at Amazon.com, which stores a list of purchased movies.

Amazon also struck a deal with Sony to bring its VoD content to the living room through Sony's Bravia HDTVs. The company said it will pursue similar deals with other TV makers in the future. In the first phase, the Amazon VoD service will be enabled on the current Bravia HD line that can be Internet-enabled through a $300 accessory dubbed Sony Bravia Internet Video Link. "I can be at my office, purchase a movie, and then it will be available on my television at home," said Sony Electronics senior manager Robert Jacobs.

To push Amazon deal, Sony Pictures will offer the upcoming Will Smith movie called "Hancock" for free to all Internet-connected Bravias before the movie's DVD release in November.

Sony also announced that it will integrate set-top box hardware into all future Bravia HDTVs to enable out-of-the box VoD capability. The marriage of Amazon's new VoD service and Bravia HDTVs could prove to be a critical game changer, especially if competitors will follow Sony's lead. What sets Sony apart is its combined hardware and content offering. No other company offers a similar variety of consumer electronics products and produces its own premium movie and TV content at the same time.

"Sony now has the capability to deliver feature films and television shows of ours or our peers directly to consumer televisions across the open IP network outside the conventional satellite, cable or terrestrial distribution systems. This initiative is a clear but important glimpse into the future of home entertainment," said Sony CEO Howard Stringer.

Sony bets that Bravia could push VoD to mass market the same way the PS2 pushed DVD format and the PS3 helped Blu-ray win the HD format war battle.