Sony launching PSP video-on-demand service

"Portable TV" will begin offering directly downloadable movies on July 27 in Japan; no US version has been announced.

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TOKYO--Sony announced today that it is launching a new Web site in Japan that will offer downloadable movies for the PlayStation Portable. The company will begin services for "Portable TV" on July 27, the same date as the release of the new firmware upgrade for the PSP. Sony Computer Entertainment America has not announced plans for a similar service in the US.

The Portable TV site will be operated by Sony Internet Service Provider subsidiary So-net, with the URL www.p-tv.jp. Portable TV will start off offering around 100 free selections, such as movie trailers, independent films, and TV pilots. Premium content--that is, films and shows you have to pay for--will be offered at a later date. Eventually, the site will sport movies and music videos, as well as a variety of television shows such as dramas, anime, sports, comedies, traveling, and cooking shows. There will also be optional, TiVo-style advertisements and promotions.

So-net hasn't made any announcements regarding its release schedule of premium movies, though it estimated they will cost a few hundred yen (a few dollars) per download. Each movie file will be offered in 320x240 pixel resolution, each will be 30 minutes in length, and each will be approximately 256MB in size, meaning longer films will require more than one download.

Movies provided at Portable TV will be in H.264/MPEG-4 AVC, the new high-quality movie format the PSP will support with its "version 2" firmware update. Since the update also gives the PSP a Web browser function, users will be able to access Portable TV directly and can download movies onto their handhelds without having to use a PC.

Accessing Portable TV directly with the PSP will be required when the site starts to offer premium content, since it will be copyright protected. Premium video files can only be saved to a Memory Stick inserted into a PSP, and they will not be able to be copied or transferred onto hard drives or other media. Free content files will have no such restrictions and can be backed up on a PC.

Companies that have already signed up to provide content for Portable TV include: Aniplex, Asai Kikaku, Bandai Channel, BBB, Geo BB, Getty, Neo Index, So-net Channel 749, Sony Pictures Entertainment, and Watanabe Entertainment.

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