Sony briefly dived into television way back in 2015 when it launched comic adaptation Powers on the PlayStation Network. The show was ultimately cancelled and the short-lived experiment failed, but it appears the company is now doubling down on entertainment once more. PlayStation Plus Video Pass is a new service being trialled in Poland where subscribers will be able to access 21 films and TV shows from the Sony library at no extra cost. The service will be tested for a year in the country before any plans for a wider rollout are made.
It comes at an interesting time for Sony, which recently struck a deal with Netflix to bring its film catalogue to the streaming service first in the U.S. before content winds up elsewhere. Recently, it was also revealed that old Sony movies like Venom and the original Spider-Man movies will be hitting Disney+ from 2022 onwards.
This confusing arrangement might be the reason for using Poland as a testing ground, but it does raise a lot of questions about the service and how rights issues will play out in other markets.
Currently, the films being made available for free to PlayStation Plus subscribers in Poland include Venom, Bloodshot, Zombieland: Double Tap, Underworld: Blood Wars, Baby Driver, Sausage Party and Bad Boys. The TV shows include Community, S.W.A.T. and Lost Girl. It’s a real mixed bag, but the one thing they all have in common is Sony had a hand in their creation.
While a global rollout is in the cards according to a Spider’s Web interview with Nick Maguire, Vice President, Global Services, Sony Interactive Entertainment, the logistics of this offering are complicated to say the least.
Rights issues are likely to be a major stumbling block. Even if Video Pass is added to PlayStation Plus overseas, it likely won’t include the same films given to Polish users because of complicated licensing agreements.
In Australia, Sausage Party, Bloodshot, Baby Driver, Bad Boys, Zombieland: Double Tap and S.W.A.T. are currently streaming on Foxtel Go. Venom and Community are on Netflix, and Lost Girl isn’t streaming at all. This will be a major hurdle in any global rollout as streaming content differs greatly between regions.
Regardless, Video Pass is still a strange offering for PlayStation Plus. It’s a service that’s so far only focussed on gaming, and it remains to be seen whether it’s a feature consumers actually want. While including free TV shows and movies does sweeten the deal for existing subscribers, it’s hard not to feel like it’s a bit tacked on.
In place of entertainment, it’s more likely gamers will want to see better or more games on PlayStation Plus.
We’ll know more about Video Pass as the service rolls out in Poland in the near future. Depending on how well-received it is, we may see similar benefits in Australia — but we’ll have to stay tuned for how it’ll work locally (if at all).