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Movies Coming to PlayStation3, XBox 360

Bypassing the set-top box and the PC, movies are coming to a gaming console near you, according to announcements by Sony, Microsoft and Netflix.

Sony Computer Entertainment America this week launched a new video delivery service on PlayStationStore for the PlayStation3 and PlayStationPortable systems in the United States. The company said consumers will have the ability to download full-length movies, television shows, and original programming. The services will offer nearly 300 movies and more than 1,200 TV episodes, many available in both standard-definition and HD.

Sony said the arrangement includes content from 20th Century Fox, Lionsgate Entertainment, MGM Studios, Paramount Pictures, Sony Pictures Entertainment, Warner Bros. Entertainment, plus titles for rent from The Walt Disney Studios and several television partners.

“PlayStation Network’s video delivery service capitalizes on the superior value and entertainment potential of PS3 and PSP—not only for gaming enthusiasts, but also for the millions of consumers looking to buy the best, most versatile solution for their home entertainment system,” said Jack Tretton, president and CEO of SCEA. “The collaboration of Sony’s film, TV and entertainment business units, coupled with our hardware and content offerings, provide consumers with entertainment experiences unlike any on the market.”

PS3’s progressive downloading means users can view content shortly after the downloading process begins, or they can download in the background and continue with other features, including gaming, Sony said.

Consumers will have 14 days to start watching the content. Once playback is started, they’ll have access to the content for 24 hours. Prices range from $2.99 to $5.99 for rentals and $9.99 to $14.99 for purchased movies.

Sony has also adopted Marlin Digital Rights Management technology, developed by Sony, Matsushita (Panasonic), Samsung and Philips.

The Sony announcement comes on the heels of one by Microsoft and Netflix to offer consumers the ability to instantly stream movies and TV episodes from Netflix to the television via the Xbox 360 video game and entertainment system.

The service will be available to Xbox Live Gold members who are also Netflix subscribers at no additional cost.

The companies promised a growing library of more than 10,000 movies and TV episodes when it launches on Xbox Live in late fall.

The companies say movies will be available for viewing as little as 30 seconds after being selected.

“Netflix and Xbox 360 are a perfect combination, the leading online movie rental service and the leading games and entertainment system joining forces to create an all-in-one entertainment experience with content for everyone,” said Reed Hastings, chairman and CEO of Netflix. “For Netflix, it represents an important step forward in making instantly streaming movies on the TV more broadly available to our members.”

Xbox Live members can already download movies and purchase TV shows from the Xbox Live Marketplace Video Store, which offers more than 6,000 hours of TV shows and movies.