If there's one thing I love as a Disney (NYSE: DIS ) shareholder, it's the launch of a new medium for watching movies.
We all know that Disney has a pretty good video game business going for itself. In fact, the latest entry in the Kingdom Hearts franchise is doing quite well on the Nintendo GameBoy Advance platform. So when a new gaming device comes along with a nascent format for viewing movies, the ante gets raised, and the opportunities multiply.
The soon-to-be-released Sony (NYSE: SNE ) PlayStation Portable handheld unit will provide a prime opportunity for the Mouse to extract more value from its library. According to a Reuters article, Disney intends to support Sony's Universal Media Disc (UMD) format, a proprietary technology that will let users watch films on the PSP. Supporting a Sony-backed format is old hat for Disney by now; Rick Munarriz wrote about the Magic Kingdom's blessing of the Blu-ray disc over Toshiba's own HD-DVD alternative back in December. So perhaps it's no wonder that the company is looking forward to giving PSP users the chance to experience action-packed titles such as Pirates of the Caribbean: The Curse of the Black Pearl and National Treasure while on the go.
Lions Gate Entertainment (NYSE: LGF ) knows a good thing when it sees it, as it also intends to give the UMD software a spin. Rick Munarriz (the very prolific Rick Munarriz) covered that company's plans for the PSP last week. Any corporation that's in the celluloid business -- such as Time Warner (NYSE: TWX ) and Viacom (NYSE: VIA ) -- should be interested in getting its library as much exposure to UMD as possible.
There's a big consideration here, though: Will buyers of the PSP be as interested in watching movies as they will be in playing games? Time will tell, but the waiting game shouldn't keep the CEOs of these conglomerates from exerting a profound effort at marketing their titles to the PSP base.
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