Report: Sony mulls Internet TV service

Conglom could launch rival to MSOs

Sony Corp. has held talks with content companies about licensing channels for a new Internet service being considered by the conglom, according to The Wall Street Journal.

The new service would establish a rival to multichannel distributors from cable operator Comcast to satcaster DirecTV, a competitive set seen as increasing vulnerable to digital alternatives like Netflix. Tough U.S. economic conditions make MSO pricing increasingly difficult to stomach for a subscriber base that is experiencing its first total year-over-year decline as an industry in 2011.

The WSJ report offers little detail on the unspecified venture though it is believed it would be offered across Sony’s range of digital devices from Sony Playstation Store to Blu-ray players and Internet-connected TVs. Sony already provides video content across that footprint in VOD format.

Sony has the added benefit of being able to draw from its deep library of film and TV content. The company already puts those assets to use via Crackle, a digital-only network that blends its catalog with original programming.

Sony is just the latest company in the consumer-electronics field believed to be exploring a business model aking to being a virtual MSO. Both Microsoft and Apple have reportedly explored similar strategies, though neither was able to strike deals that would put linear channels from premium content providers on their respective devices.

Sony has yet to respond to an inquiry seeking comment.