PlayStation Network’s ‘Tester’ Tried and Tested

The second season of The Tester, the reality series launched exclusively last year on Sony’s PlayStation Network, generated 3.2 million downloads, an increase of 28 percent versus season one. However, Sony is still deciding whether to bring back the series for a third season.

According to Susan Panico, senior director, PlayStation Network, the company is currently evaluating user feedback from the second season of The Tester, which ended just two weeks ago—and could continue to generate more views in the coming week. The show, which featured a dozen contestants vying for a job as PlayStation game tester, marked one of the first forays by PlayStation into original content. Sponsors included Electronic Arts and the Air Force.

Whether or not The Tester is renewed, expect more original series in 2011 on PlayStation Network, which now claims a whopping  70 million registered users globally (unlike the rival Xbox Live platform, PlayStation Network is free to PlayStation 3 owners). “Right now, we are planning to focus on gamer-centric content,” said Panico. So don’t expect sitcoms or dramas anytime soon though nongame-related content is part of Sony’s five-year plan for the network, which also includes a robust store, the virtual world PlayStation Home, along with access to Netflix and Hulu Plus content streaming.

Panico also hinted that PlayStation Network will begin featuring some sort of repackaged, pre-existing movie or TV content in the near future. A few years ago, sister division Sony Pictures Television started distributing minisodes, i.e. pared down episodes of classic TV shows like One Day at a Time and Charlie’s Angels, on sites like MySpace.

Ad sales for PlayStation Network surged by 60 percent this past year, added Panico, though she declined to provide specific revenue figures. But momentum is building, she claims: “We’ve only been selling the network for the past two years, but we feel like we are on a pace where we are really legitimizing ourselves as an ad platform.”