It seems as if PlayStation 3 consoles will soon become gaming platforms second and media entertainment centres first. Already sporting the BBC iPlayer service since last year, Sony's flagship console will now offer the ITV Player and Channel 4’s 4oD catch-up service.
This marks a major move by Sony to try and make the PS3 a media hub in the home and move away from the niche gaming market it is traditionally associated with. The launch is expected to happen this week and will see the PS3 strike out ahead of its console rivals. The Microsoft Xbox only offers the SkyPlayer catch-up service on a subscription basis while the Nintendo Wii offers the iPlayer service on its platform. ITV announced its intention to add the Player service to the console last August.
Robin Pembroke, managing director at ITV.com, told the Guardian, the PS3 deal marked an "acceleration of our distribution strategy", adding that he also expected to see shows such as Coronation Street and Emmerdale becoming available on internet-enabled TV sets, tablet computers such as the iPad and other gaming consoles. "As awareness of ITV Player grows, so will consumption of ITV's content on demand," Pembroke predicted. This comment comes on the back of falling viewer numbers for the ITV Player service.
Sony has estimated that the UK is home to about 4 million PS3 consoles and ITV and Channel 4 can expect a 10 percent boost in viewing figures to their online services having seen similar increases with other catch-up service across Europe on its platform.
Director of marketing for PlayStation in the UK, Alan Duncan, said: "It is about changing people's attitudes to the PS3 as a platform to view it as a much broader entertainment device." Along with the addition of the catch-up services, Sony recently launched the family-friendly Move motion controller to help appeal to a wider group of users.