Sony has announced that they will soon stop offering movies and TV shows for purchase and rental through the PlayStation Store on 31st August 2021, citing a shift in how consumers are using their service and consuming media in general.
When the changes come into effect, you’ll no longer be able to buy or rent anything, but anything that you’ve already purchased will be available for on-demand playback via PlayStation 4, PlayStation 5 and mobile.
It’s a bit of a capitulation from Sony, recognising that they cannot keep up with other brands in the film and TV market. Streaming services like Netflix, Amazon Prime, Disney+ and Hulu are increasingly dominant as they charge a relatively low subscription fee for ever-growing and ever-changing catalogues. Sony had their own rival service, PlayStation Vue, which was shut down in 2020, though this was targeted at cable cutters with broadcast feeds of live TV. The company does also own Funimation, a streaming service dedicated to bringing anime and manga to the West.
Buying and renting film and TV is destined to become increasingly niche, and when that happens, the smaller players in that market will be squeezed out first. While the PlayStation Store will no longer sell these things, there are apps for Amazon Prime, Apple TV and others that will let you buy and watch on a PlayStation device, if you wish.
Even without selling this themselves, Sony’s PlayStation consoles are often used as an all-round media hub. Streaming platforms have had apps on their consoles for a long, long time, and while Sony was keen to prioritise gaming through the PlayStation 5’s new UI, a separate Media tab in the main system menu acts as a one-stop destination for all manner of streamed video.
Over on Xbox and Windows PC, Microsoft are still offering film and TV for purchase through the Microsoft Store. While we’ll never have the figures publicly revealed, it would be fascinating to discover how much of a money spinner this is for them, relative to how it panned out for Sony.