By Jared Newman | Tuesday, March 29, 2011 at 5:30 pm
Until now, you’d be forgiven for knowing nothing about Crackle. Sony Pictures’ online video service has kept a low profile by withholding its ad-supported movies and TV shows from most web-connected set-top boxes.
On Tuesday, Sony announced that it’s bringing all that content to the Playstation 3 (via the home screen on the built-in web browser), Sony Blu-ray players, BRAVIA TVs and the Roku set-top box, along with Google TV, which was previously supported. Crackle will become the first web video service to stream ad-supported movies and TV shows to these devices, Sony says.
You get what you pay for, of course, so don’t expect a selection that rivals Netflix or Hulu. But if you poke around, you’ll find some gems, like All the King’s Men and Dr. Strangelove. Sony says it cycles in roughly 20 new titles per month from Columbia Pictures, TriStar Pictures, Screen Gems and Sony Pictures Classics.
I gave Crackle a try on my Playstation 3 and found it a bit rough around the edges. The first video I tried ran at 360p instead of 480p by default, with no higher resolutions available. A sample episode of Showtime’s Nurse Jackie didn’t have any resolution options at all, and it looked pretty grainy on the big screen. On a couple occasions, the web browser spit back error messages, and I had to reload the page. Also, some of the filtering options you find on Crackle’s website, including search and sort by decade, aren’t available.
In other words, I don’t think Sony could get away with charging money for Crackle in the first place. Still, I’m encouraged by the mere presence of ad-supported movies and shows on web-connected devices. It’s just one more alternative for cord cutters, if they indeed exist.