Soon PlayStation owners will be able to watch live cable TV on PS3’s and PS4’s.
Sony (NYSE: SNE) has recently announced PlayStation Vue, a landmark service that’s built around internet-powered television that will bring a number of big networks to the PlayStation 3 & 4 (with iPad support and other devices coming later).
“PlayStation Vue reinvents the traditional viewing experience so your programming effortlessly finds you, enabling you to watch much more of what you want and search a lot less,” Sony Computer Entertainment President and CEO Andrew House said.
“PlayStation Vue brings the best of live TV and a robust catalog of the latest content, always keeping you connected to what’s popular, new and trending.”
PS Vue is uniquely tailored to users who have internet instead of a TV subscription, furthering the popular trend of web-based entertainment options.
Sony’s bold plan to reinvent TV
Powered by internet streaming similar to Hulu Plus and Netflix, PlayStation Vue sets itself apart by offering live up-to-the-minute broadcasts of TV shows across a range of networks.
As far as cost the service will be subscription-based on a month-to-month basis much like its predecessors, but Sony has yet to reveal any pricing models.
On-demand content will be available on PlayStation Vue, with the last three days of select titles available for streaming.
Another service feature allows subscribers to save their favorite shows to the cloud for close to a month. Subscribers can also schedule recordings that go straight to the cloud, essentially turning their console into a light-data DVR.
As for channels, Sony affirms that the new service is planned to launch “with about 75 channels per market”. Below we have a listing of all of the content that will be available on PlayStation Vue’s launch, straight from the press release:
- CBS – At launch, PlayStation®Vue will offer the live linear signal from CBS Television Network’s owned-and-operated TV stations in select leading markets in addition to on-demand prime-time programming.
- Discovery Communications – Discovery Channel, TLC, Animal Planet, Investigation Discovery, Science, OWN: Oprah Winfrey Network, Discovery Family Channel and 11 more brands.
- Fox – FX, FXX, FXM, National Geographic Channel and Nat Geo WILD. Additionally FOX Sports’ national and regional programming services – FOX Sports 1, FOX Sports 2, BTN, Fox’s regional sports networks, including YES Network and Prime Ticket. The agreement also covers Fox’s owned and operated television stations.
- NBCUniversal – All local offerings from NBC, Telemundo and regional sports networks as well as Bravo, CNBC, E!, NBCSN, Oxygen, Sprout, Syfy, USA Network and more.
- Scripps Networks Interactive – HGTV, Food Network, Travel Channel, DIY Network and Cooking Channel.
- Viacom – BET, CMT, Comedy Central, MTV, Nickelodeon, PALLADIA, Spike, VH1 and more.
Assessing the risks
Sony has the widespread launch of PS Vue planned for 2015, but closed-beta invites will be sent out on a regional basis, starting in major cities across the United States like New York, Chicago, and Los Angeles.
It’ll be interesting to see how much Sony will charge for PlayStation Vue, but the console-maker doesn’t have a good reputation when it comes to entertainment services.
Sony’s on-demand Music Unlimited ($59.99/year) and pay-per-view Video Unlimited services have been trampled by streaming juggernauts like Netflix and Google Play Music. The services aren’t too popular with gamers as well, who, for the most part, are sticking with the cheaper more affordable content streaming services.
To get PS Vue running smoothly the price has to be just right. Competing against Netflix and top-tier cable providers won’t be easy, but the service will undoubtedly pave the road to a new sans cable TV revolution.
Other bright-idea subscription services that were badly executed by Sony include PlayStation Now, a back-catalog of games that replaces backwards compatibility, which has still been met with cold reception from gamers.
PS Now is largely seen as a redundant waste of money, and if the price isn’t right for PS Vue, Sony runs the risk of losing a huge investment and falling into the same trap.
If Sony wants to hit it big with Vue, then it’d be wise to implement a discount for PlayStation Plus subscribers. Music Unlimited offers a discount for PS Plus members, and it’d be a great concession/entry point to get people talking.
One thing to consider is the bandwidth of Sony’s servers. Constrained as they are with games, PS Now and the multimedia offered by Video and Music Unlimited, the extra burden of a massive series of live TV streams could compromise performance quite a bit.
It’ll be interesting to see how Sony plans to mitigate this burden, and if their cloud infrastructure is adequate to withstand a huge library of HD video content.
Basically PlayStation Vue is a novel idea that could very well turn into something great.
Essentially Sony is making strides in turning their PlayStation brand more into their rival’s all-in-one entertainment nexus. But there’s things to consider like internet speeds, bandwidth, cost factors, TV subscription cancellations and host of other inconveniences yet to be revealed.
Furthermore if you already have a TV service then there’s really no need to pick up Vue, especially if you have a consolidated all-in-one network package–TV, phone and internet.
Sony’s plan is an interesting one, but challenging industry giants like Netflix, AT&T, Comcast, and Hulu at their own game might not end well for the Japanese console-maker.