Sony’s Web TV service, Playstation Vue, has finally landed — for some viewers, anyway. As of today, Sony PS3 and PS4 owners in New York, Chicago, and Philadelphia can access the service, with rollout to other major US cities planned soon.
The service will be available in three tiers, with a starting price of $50 for the “Access” package, moving up to $60 for the “Core” package, and $70 for the “Elite” package. Users will be given a 7-day free trial to give the service a whirl.
The basic package offers 50 channels, including network channels like CBS, FOX, NBC, and Telemundo, as well as a wealth of cable fare like Comedy Central, Cartoon Network, CNN, MTV, FX, Fox Sports 1, USA, VH1, Spike, TNT, TBS, TCL and Syfy.
Moving up $10 adds more obscure channels to the base pack, including The Golf Channel, BTN, and Yes, and TCM.
As rumored, AMC and AMC Network channels including IFC, Sundance, and WeTV have joined the lineup. Still notably absent is Disney-owned ESPN, the rights to which Dish Network managed to secure for Sling TV. However, Sony’s betting a larger selection of channels in each market, and more importantly, cloud-based recording features allowing users to store programming for up to 28 days, will make up for any holes in the programming.
It’s a big bet, considering users are essentially replacing the burden of cost from a traditional cable package for one proffered online, without the addition of ESPN’s large collection of live sports that is, in many ways, the mecca of live TV programming. However, a bevy of Fox sports channels have been acquired to help take up the ESPN slack, and, interestingly, it appears Sony has struck a deal with Comcast that allows it to carry regional Comcast SportNet channels in some markets. No doubt, this is an extremely comprehensive Web TV service.
The idea of an Internet-delivered subscription TV package was somewhat novel when Sony announced Vue last November, but competitors have moved swiftly since then. Dish Network’s $20 per month Sling TV service managed to amass 100,000 in its first month of availability. Meanwhile, networks like HBO and CBS have launched a la carte offerings of their own, with others such as Showtime and NBC intending to do the same.
The company hasn’t specified when the service will expand nationwide, but Sony plans on adding new markets “in the coming months.” Sony’s plan for extending Vue beyond PlayStation consoles remains unclear, as well.
Regardless, after the false start that was Intel’s OnCue system, it appears Internet television is finally coming into its own.
Updated by Ryan Waniata 3/18/15: Sony’s Playstation Vue service went live today, offering pricing and channel guides for the company’s new Internet TV gamble.