Sony plans to add video content to its Connect music download service later this year, the head of the company's entertainment operations said yesterday.

"Sony Connect, our music download service, has just been launched at beta-testing level and video downloading will follow later this year," said Howard Stringer, vice chairman and chief operating officer of Sony.

A company spokesman downplayed those remarks today, saying that while Sony is considering a video download service it has made no decision on timing or the type of video content that may be offered.

Sony launched its Connect music download service in the US on May 5 and plans to launch the service in June in the UK, France and Germany. It's a direct competitor to services like Napster and Apple's iTunes Music Store.

Connect users can legally download songs and listen to them on a PC or compatible hardware device. Connect charges $0.99 (€0.99 in the euro zone, £0.79 in the UK) per song or from $9.99 for an entire album. The songs are encoded in Sony's ATRAC3 format which integrates Sony's own digital rights management technology.

The company has some experience in video download due to its involvement in Movielink. Launched in November 2002, the service is a joint venture of Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer (MGM), Paramount Pictures, Sony Pictures Entertainment, Universal and Warner Bros, and offers users the ability to download movies and watch them at home at any time during a 24-hour period for a flat fee.

Through its Sony Pictures unit, Sony has access to a large amount of television, music video and movie content.

Sony is also currently in talks regarding its taking over of MGM.