Sony Will Offer Live Major League Baseball Games Through PlayStation 3

Sony Corp., maker of the PlayStation 3 video game console, plans to stream live Major League Baseball games over the Internet to its machines to expand its on-line offerings and attract users other than gamers.

The company is preparing an update for the console software to enable streaming on its existing machines, said Makiko Noda, a spokeswoman at Tokyo-based Sony’s games unit. Noda, who was confirming an earlier report by the New York Times, couldn’t immediately provide further details.

“Expanding the offering of popular content such as MLB is a positive, as it advances Sony’s on-line services strategy,” said Nobuo Kurahashi, an analyst at Mizuho Financial Group Inc. in Tokyo. Kurahashi has a “neutral plus” rating on Sony.

The company, whose PS3 comes with a Blu-ray high-definition DVD player and can stream Netflix Inc. movies, is positioning the console as an entertainment center to expand its user base and take advantage of its own music and movie catalogues. Sony, which also makes Bravia liquid crystal display televisions, is working with Intel Corp., Google Inc. and Logitech International SA to bring Web content to TVs.

The streaming deal is Major League Baseball’s first such agreement with a video-game company, according to the report. The two companies will split revenues, the newspaper said, without giving further details.

Hockey, Basketball

National Hockey League games are available on Boxee, a media center software that allows users to watch TV programs and movies on personal computers, according to a posting on Boxee’s official blog. The National Basketball Association offers game highlights and statistics free on Roku, Netflix’s streaming receiver box.

Sony fell 2.1 percent to close at 3,250 yen on the Tokyo Stock Exchange today, compared with a 1.3 percent decline in the benchmark Nikkei 225 Stock Average. The stock climbed 22 percent this year, after adding 39 percent in 2009.

Sales of the PS3 gained for the eighth straight month in March in the U.S., rising 44 percent to 313,900 units from a year earlier, market researcher NPD Group Inc. said earlier this month. The console still lagged behind Nintendo Co.’s Wii and Microsoft Corp.’s Xbox 360 which sold 557,500 and 338,400 units in the period respectively, according to the report.

Sony, which loses money on each PS3 it sells, aims to make the games unit profitable in the fiscal year starting April 1, helped by the introduction of its “Move” motion-sensing controller and 3-D gaming. The new hardware will compete with Nintendo’s heart-rate-tracking “Vitality Sensor” and Microsoft’s “Natal” motion-sensing devices, which will also be available later this year.

Nintendo’s Wii dominates this generation of game consoles with more than 67.5 million units sold, compared with more than 39 million Xbox 360s and 33 million PS3s worldwide, according to separate statements by the companies. The Wii captured a 43 percent share of the global console shipments measured by units in 2009, El Segundo California-based ISuppli said earlier this month.

To contact the reporter on this story: Pavel Alpeyev in Tokyo at palpeyev@bloomberg.net; Maki Shiraki in Tokyo at mshiraki1@bloomberg.net

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