Sony's (NYSE:SONY) PlayStation3 is about to get an upgrade that will allow it to stream Major League Baseball contests to the gaming platform, a major win in the tightly-contested market and an indicator that gaming consoles are pushing for a bigger play in the over-the-top delivery game, but Xbox could end up with its own channel altogether.
PlayStation is the first gaming platform to stream MLB, and users will have access to the MLB.TV package for an annual fee, which gives subs delivery of hundreds of ball games. MLB and Sony will split the revenues. MLB has aggressively distributed its product, including access on some cellphones, the iPad, and on the Roku and Boxee devices that deliver Web streams to TV sets. The New York Times reported that MLB.TV ended 2009 with some 500,000 PC subscribers.
"Expanding the offering of popular content such as MLB is a positive, as it advances Sony's online services strategy," said Nobuo Kurahashi, an analyst at Mizuho Financial Group Inc. in Tokyo.
Xbox parent Microsoft (NYSE:MSFT) and ex-News Corp. president Peter Chernin, meanwhile, are rumored to be weighing an entire channel of content for Xbox console users, Bloomberg reports. It would target the young, male audience that Microsoft's Xbox Live subscription currently consists of, and be paid for by bumping sub rates an addition $1 to $2. No details yet on the programming aside from "reruns and original shows" aimed at that demographic.
The PS3, the Xbox, and Nintendo's Wii all are capable of streaming Netflix movies as well, and all are reportedly looking to expand their offerings. The three companies have sold an aggregate 109.5 million of the current generation units worldwide. Bloomberg reported that U.S. sales of the PS3 reached 313,900 units in March, up 44 percent from a year ago. Wii was the top seller at 557,500 units and Xbox was second at 338,400 units.
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