As part of his usual rundown of the coming week's PSN content during the latest PlayStation Blogcast, Senior Social Media Manager Jeff Rubenstein teased listeners with a brief mention of a "cool new video service" that will be revealed for the PlayStation 3. "I can't tell you anything more about it right now," he says. "But it's really cool. We tried it out, and it's something I think you all will like. Another option for people, coming to PSN for your PS3." And just like that, Rubenstein plowed forward with the release list, offering no further hints of what we can expect from the announcement.
Let's examine a few possibilities:
Sony may be planning to even up the video score
Expanded video app selection: With Microsoft's recent acceleration in providing new video apps to Xbox Live users, Sony could be feeling some pressure to broaden its own content selection. The PS3 initially led the Xbox 360 in this category with services like Vudu and MLB.TV, both of which were unavailable on the 360 until recently. Now Microsoft has quickly managed to leapfrog Sony with offerings like HBO GO, ESPN, and a native YouTube app. It could be an embarrassing turn of events for a console embraced by home theater enthusiasts, and Sony may be planning to even up the video score.
Video Unlimited: In September of last year, Sony released what it dubbed a "preview" of its Video Unlimited portal. Essentially, the app offered the same content available in the video section of the PlayStation Store but with a fresh UI and vastly improved navigation, both of which received high marks from users. Yet we've heard little of Sony's progress with the project since, so it stands to reason that the company may have something a bit more fleshed out to share this coming week. Still, Rubenstein referred to the upcoming video service as "new" and "another option" for users. This would be neither of those things, but rather the evolution of an existing feature.
UltraViolet: Sony has a vested interest in seeing UltraViolet succeed with consumers, and may seek to bolster that effort by unveiling a service that grants PS3 owners access to their digital copies in the cloud. Walmart is set to integrate UltraViolet within Vudu starting in April, but a first-party solution would certainly improve the odds of PS3 owners actually giving UltraViolet a look.
Sony has a vested interest in seeing UltraViolet succeed with consumers
Live TV on your PS3: Here's where things get a bit wild. Back in November, The Wall Street Journal reported that Sony had approached numerous TV networks with the goal of streaming their programming directly to its consumer devices via the web. Essentially, the PS3 would be transformed into a full-fledged cable box alternative. If this week's news is indeed the realization of these rumors, Sony and its partners have managed to keep an exceptionally tight lid on things. Odds point to this as the least probable theory, though it's easily the one that excites us most. It's also curious that Sony would launch a new service exclusively on the PlayStation 3 at this point in time — five years after the console launched — and seemingly leave the young PS Vita out of the mix. Perhaps whatever the company has been working on is simply better suited for the living room rather than a portable environment.
We'll have a much better sense of what Sony has up its sleeve in a matter of days. Hopefully it's something a bit more ambitious than PlayMemories. Hit the source for the full podcast; video-related chatter begins at around the 6:15 mark.