Sony unit dropping Portable TV service

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TOKYO -- Sony subsidiary So-net Entertainment Corp. is halting its Portable TV download service for the PlayStation Portable and PlayStation 3 on Aug. 30.

The service, which began in the summer of 2005, provides downloads of music videos, anime, Korean and Chinese dramas, movie trailers, sports and adult content.

The So-net service was part of Sony's drive to reinvent the PSP as a portable Web browser. But the service, like the plans for the hand-held console, stumbled, squeezed between Nintendo's more popular DS and Japanese 3G mobile phones with high-speed net connections.

There has been speculation that P-TV was to be pulled in preparation for a more comprehensive service to be introduced later this year, but a So-net spokesperson on Tuesday denied that there were any such plans in the pipeline while declining to comment on the reason for the axing.

P-TV was free initially, with premium content costing ¥100-¥300 ($0.84-$2.52), added later. Much of the content came from So-net, whose main business is as an Internet service provider, and this was only available to the company's 3 million subscribers.

A quick glance at the P-TV Web site reveals that, of the current top 10 downloads, two are anime and the remaining eight are all of an adult nature.

Both free and paid content is Digital Rights Management-protected, and typically can be viewed for only seven days. In addition, video and audio content must be downloaded to the PSP's Memory Stick via USB, undermining the idea of it being a genuine Web browser.

The P-TV service for Sony Walkman products, however, is set to continue, another indicator of the difficulties facing the gaming division, which recently announced that first-quarter losses had widened to ¥29.2 billion ($242 million), even as profits for Sony as a whole had more than doubled.
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