Sony PlayStation Vue Adds Mobile Sign-Up, Remote Access to Regional Sports Nets

Sony has shined up PlayStation Vue, its virtual pay-TV service, to burnish its appeal to mobile-first consumers.

First, new users can now sign up and start watching PlayStation Vue directly from PSVue.com on their mobile phones, tablets or PCs outside of their home. Until now, Sony had required customers to enroll from their home location. Note that the company isn’t enabling sign-ups through the PlayStation Vue apps for iOS or Android, avoiding the 15% cut that Apple and Google take for subscriptions purchased through their platforms.

PlayStation Vue also now provides subscribers access to regional sports networks like Fox Sports or NBC Sports when they’re out of their home market — so, for example if you’ve registered the service in New York, you can watch RSNs like YES Network and MSG anywhere else in the U.S.

The new features come after Sony Interactive Entertainment America — the group that houses PlayStation and related digital services — expanded rights to provide mobile parity with PS Vue’s in-home TV lineup (with the exception of programming that has special mobile rights carve-outs) as of late 2017.

“It’s a traveling TV service,” said Dwayne Benefield, head of PlayStation Vue. “It will remove barriers for how customers can get into the service.”

Meanwhile, local TV stations are available on PS Vue-supported devices on mobile for the ZIP code where customers are currently accessing the service. (In other words, you won’t be able to watch New York locals if you’re in L.A.)

Sony has not released subscriber figures for PlayStation Vue, which launched in March 2015 initially in three markets and is now available nationwide. According to Guggenheim Securities estimates, the service had 455,000 customers in December 2017.

PS Vue is one of a half-dozen over-the-top “virtual TV” services in the U.S., a crowd that includes AT&T’s DirecTV Now, Google’s YouTube TV, Dish Network’s Sling TV, Hulu with live TV, and FuboTV. Dish announced that Sling TV had 2.2 million subs at the end of 2017 while DirecTV Now had 1.2 million.

Sony offers all four big broadcast networks — ABC, CBS, Fox and NBC — in about 41% of the U.S., and at least one of those networks in about 80% of markets, according to Benefield. In 2016, Sony had launched PlayStation Vue Slim (which did not include any local channels) priced at $10 less per month to reach areas of the country where it did not yet have local TV station deals, but it retired that package last year.

According to Benefield, over 80% of Vue viewing is live — and the service overindexes on sports. The average subscriber has 2.5 TVs, and Sony is now seeing more usage on non-PlayStation devices than on PS3 and PS4 combined. However, it still signs up the majority of subscribers from PlayStation consoles.

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