Sony is showing off its PlayStation Vue cloud-based TV service. It’s aimed at competing with cable TV, largely by providing both your favorite entertainment channels as well as local TV programming.
Vue is a cloud TV service available on the PlayStation 4 and PlayStation 3 game consoles — an iPad version is in the works as well — and Sony hopes it’ll find a following with the 40 million PlayStation fans in the U.S. who also watch a lot of TV. It’s available as a free download, and it gives you up to 85 channels. It rolls out first in New York, Philadelphia, and Chicago.
I saw a demo of the PlayStation Vue service at Sony Network Entertainment in San Francisco. So far, so good. As it is, gamers will like it. They can get broadcasts from local TV stations as well as regional sports networks. But it could use some improvements, such as voice commands and a separate remote control. The service is not available on the PlayStation Vita handheld.
Players can login via their email and password from any machine. It’s $50 a month for the basic package. You get more channels with $60 and $70 a month options. Back in November, Sony said that it was going to launch with six network partners: NBC, CBS, Fox, Viacom, Discovery, and Scripps. Now it is also adding Turner and AMC network content.
“This is a very ambitious project,” said Dan Myers, head of product for PlayStation Vue, in an interview with GamesBeat. “No one has tried to do this over-the-top” content, where the media is delivered over the Internet without a middleman system operator, like a cable company.
PlayStation Vue streams live and on-demand TV content over the Internet without the need for a subscription for cable or satellite services. It’s also good for “catch-up TV.”
Viewers may also watch TV on their own schedules thanks to a digital video recording feature. The feature records all episodes of a favorite show, with access to them for 28 days. You can use the PS4 controller to rewind, pause, or fast-forward. You can save a favorite show to the cloud without storage restrictions or scheduling conflicts. The service also makes the past three days of popular programming available, in case you miss your favorite show.
“We see our users on the PlayStation platform consume a lot of video,” Myers said. “We think we have relevant providers of content. We would rank among the top five cable audiences to date based on what our users watch already.”
The guide button is available on the Options button. In my view, that’s a mistake, as they ought to have put it down as one of the four main right-hand-side buttons of a PlayStation controller.
The user interface is pretty. All of the icons are based on visual images from the shows, and they are easily viewable from 10 feet away. You can see recommended shows and search for shows using the controller. (You can’t use your voice controls, as you can with solutions from Amazon, Google, and Microsoft). PlayStation Vue recommends shows based on your viewing history and content restrictions.
You can also use the “Explore” function to find shows via type of program, genre, ratings, popularity, length, and more.
With a single PlayStation Vue account, you can simultaneously stream PlayStation Vue content to up to three consoles (but only one PS4) at any given time at no additional charge.
The current network partners include:
CBS-owned-and-operated TV stations; Discovery Communications: Discovery Channel, TLC, Animal Planet, Investigation Discovery, Science, OWN: Oprah Winfrey Network, Velocity and 11 more brands;
Fox owned-and-operated television stations: FX, FXX, FXM, National Geographic Channel; 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;
Fox News Networks: Fox News Channel and Fox Business Network;
NBCUniversal 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;
Turner :TBS, TNT, Cartoon Network, Adult Swim, CNN, Boomerang, Turner Classic Movies, HLN and truTV; Viacom: BET, CMT, Comedy Central, MTV, Nickelodeon, Palladia, Spike, VH1 and more;
AMC Networks: AMC, IFC, Sundance and WE tv (available next month).
Additional partnerships will be announced at a later date.