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Sony’s ‘affordable’ online TV service rumored to cost as much as $80 per month

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Sony’s ambitious new online TV service might boast a tantalizing variety of content, but if a recent report is accurate, it won’t be any cheaper than a traditional cable package. According to the New York Post, the new service, which was designed as an affordable alternative to high-priced cable and satellite packages, will reportedly cost users as much as $80 per month when it premieres sometime before year’s end.

Citing at least two anonymous sources, the Post reports that Sony had no luck in securing a more affordable a la carte package from content providers, which the company hoped would rein in costs. One of the Post’s sources was slightly more optimistic than the $80 figure, predicting a $60 to $65 monthly price for the service, but that’s still a far cry from the more affordable price tag of around $30 per month that analysts were predicting.

“They got creamed in negotiations,” one source told the Post. “They had huge ambitions of breaking up the bundle and being the champion of the consumer, but they’ve had no success in doing that and they’re licking their wounds.”

Sony only recently garnered what looked to be a serious coup for its new service, inking a deal that would lock down 22 Viacom entities, including popular channels like CMT, MTV, and Comedy Central. However, the report claims Sony was was unable to secure the slimmer channel package it had hoped for, boasting instead a bloated catalog of around 100 channels in the same style as traditional pay TV services. The service is believed to be setup to run on Sony’s PlayStation consoles, and possibly on its new PlayStation TV streaming device.

If the Post’s sources are to be believed, today’s news comes as a major blow at a precarious time for online TV. Right now, many providers are looking for an alternative service to offer so-called cord-cutters, who are severing standard pay TV services like cable and satellite. Unfortunately, such a sea change from inside the highly consolidated industry, in which a small few conglomerates hold the keys, is much easier said than done. Just ask Intel.

Intel’s OnCue system was designed to create a viable alternative to cable, as well. The service revolved around an Intel-designed streaming box which would meld streaming services like Netflix and Hulu Plus, with a light selection of linear (live) TV content, all from one user-friendly interface. Unfortunately, the service was reportedly unable to meet agreements  for its content licensing deals, and was eventually sold off to Verizon for a few hundred million dollars.

Dish Network is currently working on a similar stand-alone online TV service to Sony’s, and has secured rights to host content from Disney’s vault, including ESPN, ABC, and Disney programming, as well as networks from A&E like the History Channel, Lifetime, and others. Dish’s service is also predicted to cost around $30 per month. Just what today’s news means to Dish’s service, originally slated for launch last summer, is yet to be determined.

Digital Trends has reached out to Sony for a response to the report, but has not yet heard back. We’ll continue to follow this story as more details develop, and will update as soon as we find out more.

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