NAB 2018: PlayStation Vue Breaks Out Beyond the PlayStation

Las Vegas -- The origins of PlayStation Vue, initially launched to a set of U.S. markets about three years ago, are rooted to PlayStation 3 and 4 consoles, but adoption of Sony’s OTT TV service has rapidly expanded to other supported streaming platforms.  

In fact, about 70% of streaming of the PS Vue service now takes place on non-PlayStation devices, Dwayne Benefield, VP and head of PlayStation Vue (pictured), said here Wednesday (April 11) at the NAB Show’s inaugural Streaming Summit. 

Dwayne Benefield spoke at the NAB Show’s Streaming Summit.

Dwayne Benefield spoke at the NAB Show’s Streaming Summit.

In addition to the PS3 and PS4, PlayStation Vue, considered a whole-home offering because it allows for up to five simultaneous streams per account, is supported on Android TV devices, Apple TV boxes, Amazon Fire TV devices, Roku players and Roku TVs, Chromecast streaming adapters, web browsers, and Android and iOS mobile devices.  

Among other stats, Benefield said PS Vue subs average five hours plus per session, with live TV making up 80% of viewing time on the streaming service.  

Looking back, Benefield recalled that PS Vue started in select cities where it could offer access to certain local TV broadcasts, but later launched a version of the service under the “Slim” moniker that provided PS Vue a national reach (and included next day VOD access to certain broadcast TV shows) and way to enter markets where PS Vue didn’t offer live locals.  

Slim, which cost $10 less per month, was “surprisingly successful,” Benefield said.  

Local TV is “valuable, but it’s not a make-or-break…I think [OTT TV] services can succeed without broadcast,” he added, noting that many consumers still have the option to get those channels with an antenna.  

PS Vue offers four pay TV packages, but also tries to differentiate with its cloud DVR service, multi-view capability (allowing viewers to watch up to three linear channels at once), and by offering a la carte access to services such as HBO, Cinemax, Showtime, Fox Soccer Plus, and Epix Hits.  

“There is value in the bundle,” Benefield said in a keynote conversation with Dan Rayburn, conference chairman of the NAB Streaming Summit. “As it does fray, you’ll see us add more a la cartes.”  

Benefield was also asked about the challenges ahead as PS Vue faces off with a growing number of virtual MVPDs that today includes DirecTV Now, Hulu, YouTube TV, fuboTV, with a couple more on deck from T-Mobile (via its acquisition of Layer3 TV) and Vidgo.  

RELATED: Vidgo IDs Two OTT Tech Partners  

While the addition of new players raises awareness that consumers have live TV streaming options, he likewise he doesn’t expect many more to jump into the game.  

“This is not a faint-of-heart business,” Benefield said.  

RELATED: PlayStation Vue Mobilizes More Features 

He said PS Vue, which continues to add more live local TV feeds in various markets, has plans to bring more enhancements and features to the service, but declined to detail them. However, he said PS Vue updates its apps every two to three weeks.  

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Despite this being the “Golden Age of Television,” Benefield also expects there to be a winnowing of some channels that are unable to put in the investment to continue creating enough high quality content to sustain a 24/7 offering.

He also pointed out that MVPDs, including OTT-delivered ones, are also benefiting from stacking rights of TV show that are continuing to pivot more toward the pay TV ecosystem and away, to some degree, from SVOD services.