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Sony Enables Over-the-Top Video to TVs

Informitv reports that Sony is the latest in a line of consumer electronics companies that are attempting to connect the television screen to the internet, and in the process they are upsetting the status quo of the current broadcast network television business model.

Sony has introduced a new device that attaches to the back of its new television sets, providing access to streaming video delivered over a broadband connection. Known as over-the-top video services, because they bypass a broadband provider's pay-TV distribution services and go directly to the consumer.

Sony Electronics president and chief operating officer Stan Glasgow unveiled the 'Sony Video Link' internet video system at the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas.

"The Internet is reshaping the entertainment and technology landscape," he said "and it can’t come as any surprise that Sony is committed to creating an environment of convergence where products and content work together seamlessly, while providing consumers with new types of entertainment experiences."

"While other companies struggle with standard definition," he said, "Sony has developed a scalable internet HDTV solution with some notable partners providing content."

Those partners include AOL, Yahoo! and Grouper, now part of Sony Pictures Entertainment, as well as Sony Pictures and Sony BMG. The majority of new Sony televisions -- starting with several Bravia flat-panel LCD TVs -- will accept an attachable module that can stream broadband high-definition and other internet video content at the press of a remote control button.

The optional module will be available in the summer of 2007. It is quite a large device that is similar to a pay-TV set-top box. It will support RSS feeds and allow users to create custom channels, such as for local weather or traffic conditions.

The Sony Video Link will feature the Sony XMB Xross Media Bar interface which received an Emmy award at the CES trade show. It is similar to the icon based menus on the PlayStation Portable and the PlayStation 3.

Clearly, this is more troubling news for any broadband service provider that's in the process of building a conventional pay-TV delivery business model, via IPTV, when the trend is to unravel that model by utilizing unconventional delivery. While the implications are yet to be fully determined, however, I'm confident that financial analysts will be watching this trend very closely as they assess the forward-looking viability of IPTV infrastructure investment.

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