By Sahil Patel
Starting at $49.99 per month, Vue offers access to broadcast channels like CBS, Fox, and NBC, and more than 45 cable channels ranging from Discovery to Fox News, USA, and TNT. AMC, home to “Mad Men” and cable’s biggest hit “The Walking Dead,” will also be available starting next month.
That’s the “Access” bundle. Other bundles offered by Vue include “Core” ($59.99 per month for the Access package plus local regional sports networks like YES Network in New York, Comcast SportsNet Chicago, and Comcast SportsNet Philadelphia, as well as some other sports and movie networks) and “Elite” ($69.99 per month for Access and Core packages plus 25 lifestyle, music, and family channels).
In total, Vue’s offering has 85 channels, including local broadcast stations where applicable. This comes from deals Sony has secured with major programmers like CBS, Discovery Communications, Fox, NBCUniversal, Scripps Networks, Turner, and Viacom. Notably missing from that lineup: Disney, which means no ESPN, a channel that Dish Network’s competing internet-TV service, Sling TV, has.
There are some other gaps on the Vue lineup, mainly around what content is available. CBS, for instance, will only offer a live linear stream of its broadcast channel in its owned-and-operated markets.
Unlike Sling TV, Vue is not too different from existing cable and satellite services. It might be cheaper than some pay-TV plans, but the service is still asking consumers to pay $50–70 for a bundle of channels, many of which they might not even want.
What Sony believes is compelling about its service — outside of the ability to watch live and on-demand TV (eventually) across multiple devices — is the improvements the company has made to content search and discovery. Features include the ability for users to “favorite” their favorite channels in order for quicker access, as well as a cloud-based DVR that will record every episode of a show tagged by the user for a period of 28 days.
“PlayStation Vue modernizes the TV viewing experience, taking the best of live TV and on-demand content and bringing it to the PlayStation ecosystem in a way that gives control back to viewers and enables them to spend more time watching their favorite programs and less time channel surfing using outdated menus,” said Andrew House, president and global CEO of Sony Computer Entertainment and group executive in charge of Sony’s Network Entertainment business.
Initially, Vue is available in only three cities, New York, Chicago, and Philadelphia, and on the PlayStation 3 and PlayStation 4 gaming consoles. Sony said it plans to expand the service to other US cities by the end of the year, and to the iPad and other “popular devices” in the near future.