Sony brings free, full-length movies to the web, internet-connected TVs

Movie studios are giving consumers even more reasons to stay away from their local video stores, offering free ad-supported movies on internet-connected devices and cheap new releases on social networks.

Warner Bros. Pictures recently started streaming blockbuster movies like Inception and Harry Potter on social network Facebook in exchange for Facebook credits (which equate to around $3 or $4 per movie).

The trial was extremely successful and is now being expanded to include additional titles.

Movie streaming services such as Netflix and Hulu - where users pay a flat monthly fee to watch on-demand titles - has also risen to popularity in the US.

Regular TV remains the most common form of consumption for small-screen fare, but the availability of new flexible and on-demand movie and TV watching solutions is making it easier for consumers to make the switch to on-demand and internet streaming services.

Sony Pictures Entertainments is pushing for its multi-platform video entertainment network Crackle to make its way onto more screens in the house.

The company announced it is expanding its digital movie service to offer consumers one of the most comprehensive selections of ad-supported full-length films and TV series on the web.

The service will appeal to cash-strapped consumers who are not interested in watching regular TV programming and also provides an alternative for consumers who might otherwise turn to P2P networks to get their fill of free on-demand movies and TV programs.

Sony's selection of movies and TV series will be available to US and Canadian viewers on PlayStation 3 game consoles and Google TV. Viewers in the US will also have access to the service via Roku streaming players, and Sony's internet-connected Blu-ray players and BRAVIA televisions.

International viewers can also get a glimpse of Sony's digital offering in their web browser via www.crackle.com or the Google Chrome Crackle Web App.

"Crackle's ad-supported service provides consumers with a uniquely curated experience that includes hundreds of Hollywood movies in genres including action, comedy, crime, horror, thriller and sci-fi, plus thousands of TV episodes and award-winning Crackle original programming - all of which can be accessed online, via mobile, and now, on a broad selection of connected devices," said Sony in a March 29 press release.

Crackle's current selection of movies includes titles such as The Da Vinci Code, 21, Ultraviolet, A Few Good Men and Mr. Deeds. The titles are refreshed frequently, says Sony, with around 20 new titles per month from studios such as Columbia Pictures, TriStar Pictures, Screen Gems and Sony Pictures Classics.

To start watching, head to http://www.crackle.com.

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