This week, Sony’s PlayStation Vue virtual pay-TV service made its long-expected jump to a nationwide offering, after percolating in a handful of launch cities for the past several months.
The streaming service, now available in more than 203 DMAs, will offer a 55-channel skinny bundle, “Access Slim,” that looks remarkably like the pared down bundles currently being offered by some pay-TV providers for $30. But, it comes with (without, actually) one very big difference: live local channels. In all but the seven original markets it beta tested in – Vue can’t deliver live liner content from ABC, NBC and Fox, instead offering the networks on a one-day delay VOD format.
That’s the trade off Sony made to get its virtual MSO distribution nationwide.
It also doesn’t include any CBS content – at the moment – although the Eye network likely will onboard later this year… also not live.
The $30 price tag is $10 less than Vue launched at, although subscribers in the original seven markets – New York, Los Angeles, Dallas, Chicago, Miami, Philadelphia and San Francisco -- will continue to get live network broadcasts… and pay an extra $10 for them.
Vue also offers to bigger bundles of content, “Core Access,” with 70+ channels for $35 and the 100+ channel “Elite Access,” for $45/mo.
Access Slim has more channels than Sling TV’s $20 basic offering but, unlike Sling TV it gives subscribers access to network TV, a la Hulu.
Another significant hurdle to wide adoption of the service? You have to own a PlayStation gaming console or Amazon Fire device to access the content.
Will Vue matter to the general public – or, more importantly, to the Millennials it’s targeting? Will it pave the way for more cord cutting, more a la carte TV and help continue the remake of the television industry that Netflix helped kick start?
On the surface, Vue should have similar success to that Sling TV has already had… Dish Network’s slimmed down streaming service has an estimated 600,000 subscribers with some sunny forecasts of 2 million by the end of this year. Vue delivers more channels than Sling and, you can look at the extra $10 cost as paying for a Hulu service you might want anyway. At first blush, Vue has an edge.
But the device limitation is just that, a factor that will hold back its growth, and it could really hamstring Vue in the future.
Expand Vue to Roku, Apple TV and Smart TVs, and it could leave Sling TV in its dust.
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