Sony has today detailed the cloud-based TV service it originally announced at CES 2014. Called PlayStation Vue, it aims to offer an array of TV channels without a monthly contract across a range of devices, and is Sony's bid to offer a TV service that it hopes will replace traditional cable subscriptions.
The company says the invite-only beta version of the streaming service will first be available on PS4 and PS3 in November, before rolling out to iPad, and later other "Sony and non-Sony devices." The beta version of the service will launch first in New York, with around 75 channels per market, including channels owned by CBS, Fox, and NBCUniversal. Price and packages will be revealed at launch, but Sony says that the service won't require any monthly contracts, won't need any extra hardware to use, and won't demand any installation charges.
Vue will be available first on PS4 and PS3, before rolling out to iPad and other devices
Andrew House, president of Sony Computer Entertainment, says that Sony built PlayStation Vue - which is set to arrive on Sony home consoles first — to "stay true to gamers." But speaking to Bloomberg BusinessWeek, House altered his gamer-first message. "This is an opportunity, in my view, to fulfil a longer goal of transforming what was in the past a dedicated game device into a proper entertainment hub," he said, suggesting that his company can tweak the perception of the PlayStation 4 and aim it at the mass market as a cable box replacement. "There is nothing in entertainment as broad as the mass-market live-TV space."
Shows can't be kept longer than 28 days
Other companies have tried to offer alternatives to old-style cable subscriptions, but without access to the range of channels, movies, and live sporting events as cable providers, they haven't seen huge success. Sony, too, may find it tough to navigate the stipulations set out by TV content providers — Bloomberg notes that some channels aren't available on the mobile service thanks to the peculiarities of the deals Sony could sign, and shows can't be kept for longer than 28 days.
But Sony's service appears smartly designed, aping cable TV but improving on it by letting people watch everything shown over the last three days at any time, without recording it beforehand. With experience in the sector and a profitable PlayStation division behind it, Sony might be able to give the new Vue the kind of kickstart it needs to get people cutting their cords.