Sony Plans 4K Video Streaming Via PlayStation 4

File sizes could reach 100GB

By James DeRuvo (doddleNEWS)

With Sony locked in an ultra high definition (UHD) arms race with RED over competing 4K Streaming networks, details are being laid out like bread crumbs over how the electronics giant plans to initiate the next generation ultra high definition streaming network. And it’s delivery system looks to be the recently announced PlayStation 4 platform.

Although Sony announced 4K TVs at CES, the latest coming out of Japan is that the newly-announced PlayStation 4 will be the platform that will power Sony’s 4K distribution arm.  So that could mean that users will not necessarily have to have a 4K Bravia UHD TV in order to get the ultra high definition signal. But considering Sony’s obsession with painting their customers into corners with proprietary technologies, it wouldn’t surprise me one bit if the 4K experience won’t be truly UHD unless used in concert with a Sony TV.

“I think as the industry evolves 4K, [it] might decide that a disc format might be something that the consumers are looking for,” said Sony CEO Kaz Hirai in an interview with The Verge. “But at this point, before we get into that sort of format, we’re looking for distribution through the network.”

And while Sony hasn’t left out the possibility of also offering 4K on physical media like a kind of blu-ray disc, Molyneux says that the world is moving away from physical media in favor of downloading. “The whole world is moving more and more to download.”  And he’s right.  But that’s something that’s out of Sony’s control, or even REDs for that matter.  File sizes of 4K streams at 100-GB or more, depending on the length of the movie or TV episode being streamed presents a real problem.  When you consider that ISPs have pushed bandwidth caps of around 250GB a month, with additional charges and even disconnections for going over, a 4K streaming service isn’t really going to gain much traction if the audience can only watch 2 shows a month before having to go dark, and that’s having to also deal with other internet traffic, including the PS4’s game distrubution via a playable download.

“(Those are) challenges that we have to work through,” says Sony Electronics President and COO Phil Molyneux, “we’ve got some very good ideas that will make that a comfortable consumer experience.”

The 4K streaming service is being planned to come out starting this summer (sooner than it’s project Thanksgiving launch), with a complete Sony catalog available to rent or purchase in 4K.  But Sony is going to have to get ISPs on board and that isn’t going to be an easy sell.  Already, Netflix accounts for over 40% of internet network traffic after 6pm, and ISPs are doing everything they can to discourage users from “cutting the cable.”  But that’s because many ISPs, like Time Warner and Comcast, also have lucrative cable service businesses that their bandwidth caps are designed to prop up.  Having to deal with another service, that provides 4K, will certainly put pressure on them to ease bandwidth and go to either an ala carte or all you can eat model.

About James DeRuvo

James has a multi-faceted career that spans radio, film and publishing. A writer about the technology in the video industry for nearly 20 years, James is also an award winning film director, having garnered a Telly Award for his short film Searching for Inspiration. He's also worked as a producer of many talk radio programs in Los Angeles with topics ranging from entertainment to travel to technology.

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