Sony to Launch Web TV Service PlayStation Vue, Unveils Content Partners

It will launch with 75 networks from the likes of Viacom, CBS, Fox, NBCUniversal and Discovery and vows to "reinvent" the TV experience

Sony Corp. said Thursday that its long-awaited cloud-based TV service would start in a soft beta launch this month.

The service will be called PlayStation Vue and be accessible via PlayStation gaming consoles. After an invitation-only beta launch starting this month in New York, Los Angeles, Chicago and Philadelphia, the company plans a broader commercial launch early next year.

The Sony Network Entertainment International-operated service will compete with traditional cable and satellite TV services and offer live TV and on-demand content. The service will launch with 75 networks under deals with the likes of Viacom and CBS Corp., which have announced their participation, Fox, NBCUniversal and Discovery Communications.

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Sony said it expects to offer additional networks in the future. Not mentioned in Thursday's announcement were networks from the likes of the Walt Disney Co. and Time Warner.

Pricing details weren't disclosed. Sony said those would be announced at a later stage, but the firm said prices would be "fair and competitive." The company also said the service was "changing the rules for how people pay for subscription TV," with no contacts or installation charges and no hidden extra costs. Users will need a PlayStation 3 or PlayStation 4, though.

Thursday's announcement came from the conglomerate's Sony Network Entertainment International and Sony Computer Entertainment units.

"Everyday TV is about to become extraordinary with our new cloud‐based TV service, PlayStation Vue," said Andrew House, president and group CEO of Sony Computer Entertainment and group executive in charge of the network entertainment business. "PlayStation Vue 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."

He added: "PlayStation Vue 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."

He said Thursday's news "demonstrates what our company is capable of when we embrace disruption and stay true to gamers."

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Viewers can save favorite shows to the cloud "without storage restrictions or scheduling conflicts," Sony said about the functionality of the service. "Once viewers tag a favorite show, they will automatically have access to episodes of that show for 28 days so that they can watch on their own time."

Here is a look at the service's current network partners: 

CBS: at launch, the service will offer signals from owned-and-operated CBS TV stations in selects markets along with on-demand primetime programming

Discovery Communications: Discovery Channel, TLC, Animal Planet, Investigation Discovery, Science, OWN, Discovery Family Channel, plus 11 others

Fox: Fox's owned-and-operated TV stations, FX, FXX, National Geographic Channel, Nat Geo Wild, Fox Sports 1, Fox Sports 2, BTN, regional sports networks, including YES Network

NBCUniversal: all local offerings from NBC, Telemundo and regional sports networks, Bravo, CNBC, E!, NBCSN, Oxygen, Sprout,  Syfy, USA, others

Scripps Networks Interactive: HGTV, Food Network, Travel Channel, DIY Network, Cooking Channel

Viacom: BET, CMT, Comedy Central, MTV, Nickelodeon, Palladia, Spike, VH1, others

Email: Georg.Szalai@THR.com
Twitter: @georgszalai

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