Uh-oh, Blu-Ray: Sony looks to streaming movies

Sony's plans for the near future, which company chief executives discussed today in Tokyo, include streaming video for both the Bravia line of TVs and the PS3. Looks like the game console could portend the future of media after all.

According to Kazuo Hirai, head of Sony's video game unit, the PlayStation 3 will be getting a movie download service before the end of the summer in the United States, with Japanese and European markets shortly thereafter. Rollout dates, video quality, and payment schemata were not discussed, but more information is expected from the company in July.

Sony also has plans to deliver streaming movies and television to broadband-connected Bravia TVs in the fall, according to CEO Howard Stringer. The service's inaugural film will be the Sony Pictures film "Hancock."

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This could portend bad things for Blu-ray, a format that more and more analysts expect to represent a sort of swan song for hard-copy media. Movie rental company Netflix has already moved into the streaming on demand realm, where products like AppleTV, Vudu, and dozens more already reside.

Japanese research firm BCN recently showed the PS3 to be the best-selling Blu-ray player on the world market. If Sony shifts emphasis away from the PS3's strength as a Blu-ray player and toward its streaming media capabilities, the still-developing sales momentum of Blu-ray media would no doubt be impeded.

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