Sony is adding yet another service to its PlayStation ecosystem. PlayStation Vue, a cloud-based TV and on-demand movie service, allows users to stream television programming to their PlayStation 4 and record programs while they broadcast.
“[PlayStation Vue] demonstrates what our company is capable of when we embrace disruption and stay true to gamers,” Sony Computer Entertainment CEO Andrew House says in a statement.
The service is contract-free (that is, users pay monthly and may cancel at any time) and will launch with around 75 channels. Major programmers include CBS, Fox, Discovery, and Viacom (Comedy Central, MTV, and Nickelodeon, and others). It’s entering a nascent market for streaming live television that technology company Aereo recently vacated following a Supreme Court decision that decided the company was bypassing retransmission fees that similar broadcasting companies had to pay.
There isn’t anything intensely innovative about the Vue from a technology standpoint; Aereo had similar features that allowed its subscribers to stream over-the-air transmissions of TV channels to their devices and also allowed for scheduled DVR recordings. But Sony's innovation comes from a business standpoint. The company wrangled many different live, streaming channels into one service.
It also isn’t the only recent addition to Sony’s cloud services. Last year, Sony acquired Gaikai, a video game streaming service that allows subscribers to stream video games to their TV sets seamlessly over the Web, removing the need for a dedicated gaming console or PC to launch and play games.
But like Gaikai, PlayStation Vue’s usefulness is contingent on Internet speeds, and it’s bound to face some difficulty in rural areas where broadband Internet might be hard to come by. Internet speeds remain relatively slow and expensive in the United States.
On top of that, the Vue could fall victim to telecommunications companies looking to limit and charge for bandwidth-heavy services, but President Barack Obama made strides recently toward net neutrality.
Sony will hold an invite-only beta period starting this November in New York, then rolling out to Philadelphia, Chicago, and Los Angeles. The service will debut for select PlayStation 3 and 4 owners, with iPad access shortly afterward, and non-Sony devices following that. Sony has yet to announce a price.