Sony is teaming up with European movie-rental firm Lovefilm to offer TV viewers in Britain instant access to films from the Web, as a land grab for space on Internet-connected televisions gets under way.
The two companies said Sony's Bravia lines of Internet TVs, high-definition Blu-ray players and Blu-ray home theater kits would come preinstalled with a Lovefilm icon that will allow Lovefilm subscribers easy access to streamed video.
Currently, Lovefilm subscribers can choose to receive physical DVDs in the post or to stream films from the Web and watch them on computers.
It is possible to access Lovefilm via a Web browser on connected TVs, but few in Europe have so far bothered to do so. Providers of services that come preinstalled on devices will have an advantage over those that have to be found on the Web.
Consumers do not generally tinker around with things, says analyst Dan Cryan of media research firm Screen Digest. If you can actually integrate onto the TV you solve a lot of interface problems and present the service to people more easily.
Lovefilm's U.S. peer Netflix has already moved aggressively to enable customers to view films streamed from its service to TVs via devices like video games consoles.
Lovefilm, Europe's leading movie-rental service, has more than 1 million members in Britain, Scandinavia and Germany and has a catalog of about 67,000 titles, including games.
Sony and Lovefilm said on Thursday they would be rolling out the new delivery platform in the coming months.
Lovefilm wants to be on many devices and is expected to launch a similar partnership with Samsung.
(Reporting by Georgina Prodhan; Editing by Phil Berlowitz)