PlayStation Vue finally became a reality today, more than a year after Sony announced its plan and three months later than it originally planned. But don’t get excited yet unless you own a PlayStation 4 or 3 gaming console and live in New York, Chicago, or Philadelphia. Service to other cities will be added “later this year” and connections with Apple’s iPad will “follow.”
Vue seeks to hold a middle ground between the $80+ a month traditional cable and satellite packages, and cheap, skinny alternatives such as Dish Network’s $20 a month Sling TV. And Sony will have to fight to interest consumers who are eagerly waiting for splashy new offerings including HBO Now, and Apple’s planned streaming TV service.
Prices for Vue begin at $49.99 a month for a package of about 50 channels that include broadcast (in local markets for network-owned stations) and cable services from CBS, Time Warner, Viacom, Discovery, Fox, NBC Universal, and Scripps Networks — AMC joins the line up next month. Conspicuously absent: Disney and Univision.
For an additional $10 a month subs can watch more sports. New Yorkers can see the Yankees’ YES Network, while those in Philadelphia and Chicago see their regional versions of Comcast SportsNet. And those willing to pay $69.99 can see several additional niche channels including BET Gospel, CNBC World, Logo, Palladia, Sprout, Velocity, and VH1 Classic.
Sony Network Entertainment’s Eric Lempel says in a blog post that the company “set out to build this revolutionary product with our community of gamers in mind….When you are looking for something new and exciting to watch, powerful discovery tools will help you filter thousands of shows in just moments, so you can search less and watch more. The cloud based DVR lets you save your favorite shows with no programming conflicts and store recorded episodes for up to 28 days.”
Along with the programming and technology, Vue enables users to cancel at any time.
Although the pricing “may seem high,” the fact that Vue doesn’t offer every major channel is a danger sign for independent networks, BTIG’s Brandon Ross says. “Sony cut deals with a set of the larger network groups, making choices about what they couldn’t live without and what they could forego.”
Sony Computer Entertainment Group CEO Andrew House told the International CES confab in 2014, where he unveiled the plan, that the Sony “will make TV a more personalized and dynamic service” adding that “no other company is better poised to lead the TV revolution than Sony.”