Talking tech since 2003

Today, Sony announced PlayStation Vue, a new television service freed from the shackles of cable subscription plans that will provide “around 75 channels per market” from major broadcast and cable networks. The new service will officially launch in the first quarter of 2015, and will be available on PlayStation consoles and other Sony devices, as well as the Apple iPad and “other non-Sony devices.”

playstation-vuePlayStation Vue will get started with an invite-only beta preview this month for select PS3 and PS4 owners, “with a phased rollout starting in New York followed later by Chicago, Philadelphia, and Los Angeles.” So what can you watch on PlayStation Vue, you ask? The list is pretty huge, actually. Here’s what Sony has on offer just during the beta, with likely even more on the way:

  • 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 – Fox Networks Group’s portfolio of national entertainment programming services, including – 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.

That’s a huge lineup of channels. Moreover, users will have the option to stream content on-demand up to three days after initial broadcast – so if you want to watch a newscast from Tuesday on Thursday, you can do so without having to set a DVR. You’ll also have DVR-like functions, with the ability to save shows to “the cloud without storage restrictions or scheduling conflicts.”

“Once viewers tag a favorite show,” reads the description, “they will automatically have access to episodes of that show for 28 days so that they can watch on their own time.”

playstation-vue-2All in all, PlayStation Vue could be an enormous disruption to the traditional cable industry – but there might be a pretty big catch. As of now, Sony has yet to announce anything related to pricing for the service. Right now, the company says that it’ll offer “transparent pricing with no commitments,” and “no hidden fees or charges.” There’s also no contract, meaning you can stop subscribing whenever you want and not face termination fees (or deal with angry customer service reps, one would hope).

That’s all well and good – but what’s the actual price? Sony says that it won’t reveal pricing and packaging details until the commercial launch, which, again, isn’t until early next year. As such, I have a guess that it’ll be a bit on the expensive side. After all, Sony needs to recoup the money spent on licensing all that content and paying for the servers that’ll provide access to users. On the other hand, a la carte TV service is exactly what customers have been clamoring for these last few years. Most cable packages are already pretty pricey and don’t offer this much flexibility.

So how much would you pay for PlayStation Vue?

[PlayStation Vue Announcement]

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