updated 11:35 am EDT, Tue October 14, 2008
Sony Movie on HDTV First
Sony today made good on a summer promise by becoming one of the first to premiere a major movie rental on a networked video hub rather than releasing it simultaneously with or after its physical release. Owners of the company's Internet Video Link for its BRAVIA HDTV sets will have the option of downloading a rental version of Hancock from October 28th, or nearly a month before the November 25th street date. This will include both a 720p HD stream as well as both high- and low-bitrate 480p versions for those with slower connections.
The rentals will have the same rights as those from iTunes, VUDU and other online video stores in the US, with each rental supplying 24 hours of unlimited viewing. However, Sony's version will also cost about two thirds more than equivalents from Apple and others, costing $10 for a single rental versus $6 for a new-release 720p title elsewhere. The company hasn't explained the discrepancy but promises to mail out a free copy of Hancock on Blu-ray to those who both rent the movie and sign up online over the course of an unspecified period.
Sony's advance launch comes in part through the company's rare position as both a movie producer and an electronics firm, which lets it clear rights to its own movies in special deals. Apple, VUDU, and others have often had rentals or purchases delayed by studios hoping to protect their first-week Blu-ray and DVD sales from Internet alternatives.