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Sony Boots Up ‘PlayStation Vue’ OTT Service

Taking aim at the traditional pay-TV market, Sony on Thursday unveiled PlayStation Vue, an over-the-top subscription TV service that will start off with about 75 channels per market.

Offered initially through an invite-only beta preview later this month, the cloud-powered  service will run on PlayStation 4 and PlayStation 3 consoles.  Sony said it will reveal pricing and packaging details when it launched PlayStation Vue on a commercial basis, but noted that the no-contract offering will offer the service at a “fair and competitive price that is transparent with no hidden fees or charges.” The New York Post reported in October that Sony was aiming to sell a lineup of about 100 channels for up to $80 per month. 

During the beta preview period, Sony said it phase in the service this month, starting in New York, followed later by Chicago, Philadelphia, and Los Angeles.  Offered initially on PS3 and PS4 consoles, Sony noted that it will extend access on iPads as well as more Sony and non-Sony devices. 

Sony said it will launch PlayStation Vue commercially during the first quarter of 2015. 

The new service will feature a mix of live and on-demand content from the following content partners:

-CBS: At launch, will offer the live linear signal from CBS Television Network's owned-and-operated TV stations in select leading markets in addition to on-demand prime-time programming.

-Discovery Communications: Discovery Channel, TLC, Animal Planet, Investigation Discovery, Science, OWN: Oprah Winfrey Network, Discovery Family Channel and 11 more brands.

-Fox: Fox Networks Group's portfolio of national entertainment programming services, including FX, FXX, FXM, National Geographic Channel and Nat Geo WILD. Additionally 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. The agreement also covers Fox's owned and operated television stations. 

-NBCUniversal: 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 – HGTV, Food Network, Travel Channel, DIY Network and Cooking Channel.

-Viacom: BET, CMT, Comedy Central, MTV, Nickelodeon, PALLADIA, Spike, VH1 and more.

Noticeably absent from the list at this stage are networks from AMC Networks, Time Warner Inc. (including Turner Broadcasting) and the Disney stable, including ESPN and ABC, but Sony said it will announce more programming partners in the future. 

The service will feature catch-up and VOD services, an “Explore” function that lets viewers filter live and on-demand programming, and a recommendation engine based on viewing habits and what’s trending.

With a nod to the cloud DVR model, it will also support a component that makes the past three days of “popular programming” available without needing to schedule recordings. Viewers can also save shows to the cloud “without storage restrictions or scheduling conflicts,” but customers will have 28 days to view them. 

"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, in a statement. "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. 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. Today's announcement builds on the historic success of PlayStation 4 and demonstrates what our company is capable of when we embrace disruption and stay true to gamers."