Sony’s CRACKLE making noise with free Internet TV service

While Netflix was busy battling HBO over exclusive content and providing an increasingly valid reason to cut the cable-cord, Sony’s Crackle just kept building.

Adding content, signing advertisers and launching on an array of devices including Xbox 360, Roku, Sony Blu-ray players, Sony Internet-connected TVs, Android, iPhone, iPad and more.

Its time out of the spotlight paid off. Now it’s clear that Crackle, which launched in the summer of 2007, is a contender.

Opting for an ad-supported model — the lifeblood of terrestrial radio — Crackle is free on all devices. It’s a proven formula: Free service = more users. More users = more ad dollars. Great method for generating revenue and users.

Other ad-supported services: Terrestrial radio and now Pandora and Slacker, Facebook and websites (see those banner ads? They’re paying the bills.) All ad-supported. 

Crackle’s fresh content and smooth interface makes it feel like mini-Netflix. Hundreds of movies, clips and made-for-TV content. Plus the only place away from DVD you’ll find Seinfeld, which features 10 new episodes episodes each month.

Movies, Clips and TV like Spider Man 3, Ghostbusters, 21, Pineapple Express, Year One, Talladega Nights, Cruel Intentions, Passengers, Joe Dirt, Vacancy, Stranger than Fiction, 8MM, Basic Instinct 2, TV shows like Seinfeld and News Radio.

Crackle reports nearly 300 movies. More than 100 TV shoes and around 50 original TV shows featuring made-for-Crackle content.

Sure the library’s not as vast as Netflix or even Amazon Instant Video, but it’s free and available on a growing number of devices.

Crackle is mysteriosly absent from PlayStation 3, even though Crackle itself is a Sony service. Crackle lists that it’s available on PS3, though only through the PlayStation web browser. It’s not currently available on PS3 in app-form.

Venture Beat reported today, however, that Sony is preparing to announce a new video service for PS3. Rumored to involve Internet channels or apps. (An idea we suggested more than a year ago.) The new service would likely include Crackle.

Some devices as of late now require the Crackle user to login with a username and passord. Which tells me Sony wants a more accurate count of users and active users for advertising.

Like Netflix or Hulu, Crackle users can add content to a queue or choose to subscribe to TV shows.

And its mobile and iPad versions are smooth and attractive.

Crackle’s almost ready for the big leagues. And its timing is near-perfect. Though it’s entering a crowded marketplace, not one has presented itself as a real Netflix competitor.

And I wouldn’t count anyone out.

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