Sony is about to fully take on the online TV biz.
According to The Wall Street Journal, Sony has been putting more focus on its online TV efforts in the US. Andrew House, president of Sony Computer Entertainment, told the paper the company will even commercially launch its service, called PlayStation Vue, within the next two weeks in New York, Chicago, and Philadelphia. Invitation-only tests of Vue have already been underway in those cities.
The end-goal is that Sony wants to roll out the new service, which is described as a service for cord cutters, by the end of 2015. Cord cutters are people who like to watch video content but don't subscribe to paid television. They prefer to watch their content online at no cost or through on-demand services like Netflix, but most still have trouble accessing live or sometimes premium content.
There are some solutions available, such as Dish Network's over-the-top service called Sling TV, which is available as an app for iOS, Android, Amazon Fire TV, and other streaming media devices. As a paid subscriber to Sling TV, you get access to a $20 core package that includes Video-On-Demand content and channels like ESPN, Food Network, Cartoon Network, Disney Channel, AMC, BBC America, and more.
Sling TV has been winning awards across the board, grabbing all the headlines, and making everyone wonder why another video service is generating such excitement. Part of the reason is cost, but another is content. It's offering up premium content like ESPN, for instance. House told The Wall Street Journal that Sony is confident in Vue, even though it doesn't offer ESPN.
"We have a very robust offering in the sports area with existing partnerships," House added, though he wouldn't confirm pricing nor sports content providers beyond Vue’s current lineup of Fox Sports. He simply said discussions with other content providers were ongoing, and that Sony plans to make Vue accessible via Apple iPads. Vue currently operates via PS3 and PS4 game consoles.
Announced back in November, PlayStation Vue is one of several new beta features on Sony’s PlayStation Network. It includes popular channels, such as CBS, FOX, NBC, Comedy Central, FX, and Discovery, and it offers the ability to live stream those networks or watch episodes that aired recently. It specifically also allows for recorded shows to be stored in the cloud for 28 days.
It's important to remember that Sony is attempting to tackle the online TV business at a time when many individual TV networks have already decided to compete with Netflix by launching their own subscription TV services. On Monday, for instance, HBO announced it was launching a new standalone streaming service called HBO Now, and that it would initially release on Apple TV as an exclusive.
It'll be interesting to see how Vue fares in a space that's beginning to feel crowded by the competition.