San Mateo, Calif. — Sony may have beaten Apple to the punch on delivering a long-rumored new TV-viewing paradigm.
The electronics and movie giant introduced Thursday a Cloud-based TV service that lets users watch live TV and on-demand content without a cable or satellite service. Rumors have circulated for the past several years that Apple was working on a similar concept for an "Apple TV," which has yet to materialize.
Sony's service, which is a collaboration between the Sony Network Entertainment International and Sony Computer Entertainment divisions of the corporate megalith, will be available in beta form to select PlayStation4 and PlayStation3 owners this month, Sony said. A commercial launch is planned for early 2015.
PlayStationVue is designed for access by the gaming consoles, and eventually iPads and Sony tablets, without the need of extra equipment.
The service combines live, on-demand and catch-up TV with a PlayStation user interface that works with a DualShock controller.
Similar to Dish Network’s Primetime Anytime system, the service will make the past three days of popular programming available without the need to schedule recordings.
In Dish’s case, programs from major networks are available for seven days, but Sony’s service will let viewers save favorite shows to the Cloud without storage restrictions or scheduling conflicts, the company said.
Once viewers tag a favorite show, they will automatically have access to episodes of that show for 28 days.
Sony’s service also offers a powerful programming recommendation system that suggests movies and shows based on viewing habits of the user as well as what’s trending with other viewers.
The PlayStation Vue’s Search feature narrows down results quickly and intuitively, while an Explore function allows viewers to filter the entire catalog of live and on-demand content by type of program, genre, ratings, popularity, length and more, Sony said.
“Everyday TV is about to become extraordinary with our new Cloud-based TV service, PlayStation Vue,” stated Andrew House, Sony Computer Entertainment president and group executive in charge of the Network Entertainment Business. “PlayStationVue 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. PlayStationVue 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. Today's announcement builds on the historic success of PlayStation4 and demonstrates what our company is capable of when we embrace disruption and stay true to gamers.”
During the beta trial, Sony said it will give invited users access to 75 channels per market, including local broadcast stations.
Current network partners include:
- CBS-owned and -operated TV stations in select leading markets, in addition to on-demand prime-time programming;
- Discovery Communications channels, including Discovery Channel, TLC, Animal Planet, Investigation Discovery, Science, OWN: Oprah Winfrey Network, Discovery Family Channel and 11 more brands;
- Fox Networks Group's national entertainment programming services, including Fox O&O stations, FX, FXX, FXM, National Geographic Channel and Nat Geo Wild; 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;
- NBCUniversal channels, including 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 channels, including HGTV, Food Network, Travel Channel, DIY Network and Cooking Channel.; and
- Viacom channels, including BET, CMT, Comedy Central, MTV, Nickelodeon, Palladia, Spike, VH1 and more.
Sony said pricing and packaging details will be revealed at commercial launch, “but PlayStationVue is changing the rules for how people pay for subscription TV,” explaining that viewers pay for what they watch at fair and competitive prices with no hidden fees or charges.
Sony added the service will also not require contracts and will be offered on a month-to-month basis without any penalty or customer-service hassles for cancellation.
Users need only have a PlayStation3 or PlayStation4 console to receive the service, without the need of extra equipment. No additional equipment rental fees will be required.
The invite-only beta launch will begin this month, Sony said, with a phased rollout starting in New York followed later by Chicago, Philadelphia and Los Angeles.
The service will also become available on iPads shortly thereafter, and later on more Sony and non-Sony devices.
The PlayStationVue commercial launch is slated for the first quarter of 2015.