×
You will be redirected back to your article in seconds

Sony PlayStation Vue Launches ‘Slim’ TV Bundles Nationwide Without Live Broadcast Channels

Packages priced $10 per month below 'full' TV service will include primetime VOD from ABC, Fox, NBC

Now that Sony’s PlayStation Vue has added ESPN, the company is pitching the over-the-top TV service everywhere in the U.S. — although in most markets, it will lack live local TV programming today.

The new PlayStation Vue Slim packages stand to raise the competitive stakes in the OTT space, giving disgruntled cable and satellite TV customers a new option for pay television. Sony’s national OTT play will square off against Dish Network’s Sling TV, which starts at $20 per month, and comes as AT&T gears up to launch DirecTV broadband-delivered pay-TV packages in the fourth quarter of 2016.

The Slim version of PlayStation Vue, starting at $30 per month, will be available in 203 TV designated market areas in the U.S. While that won’t have live local TV, it will provide on-demand next-day access to primetime content from ABC, NBC and Fox; programming from CBS is not available at launch, but will be added in “select TV markets” at a later date.

Popular on Variety

“We were intent on bringing this valuable service to broader reach as quickly as possible,” said Dwayne Benefield, VP and head of PlayStation Vue for Sony Network Entertainment International. “With the assortment of channels we have now, we feel we are strong alternative to current pay-TV providers and new entrants.”

The full PlayStation Vue service with local TV stations is available only in seven markets: New York, Los Angeles, Chicago, Philadelphia, Dallas, San Francisco and Miami. Sony will continue to negotiate with broadcasters to bring on local live channels to the service, Benefield said.

“For us, it’s about having the right content for what we feel is our target demographic,” Benefield said. “We felt when we launched, the live local broadcasts were paramount, but our customers have been clamoring for these packages – most of the customer service calls that were coming in were, ‘Hey, when is it coming to my city?'”

Sony added ESPN and other Disney channels earlier this month to the OTT package, nearly a year after PlayStation first bowed.

The PlayStation Vue Slim packages are each priced $10 less than the “full” versions that include broadcast stations. Benefield noted that doesn’t mean Sony is paying $10 per month in retransmission fees in those seven markets: “What we are providing to consumers is a tremendous value – there’s not a direct correlation to our cost base,” he said.

The new plans are Access Slim ($29.99 per month), with about 55 channels, including live cable TV, movies and sports channels; Core Slim ($34.99 per month), with 70 channels, including all the channels from Access Slim with the addition of live national and regional sports networks from Fox and Comcast; and Elite Slim ($44.99 per month) featuring all the channels from Core Slim with the addition of top movie and entertainment channels.

Sony’s national TV service provides the same features as the regular PlayStation Vue. Those include “cloud DVR,” allowing thousands of hours of programming to be recorded — 10 times the storage of any DVR in the market today, according to the company — and the ability to watch up to five simultaneous streams (whereas Sling TV is limited to one). Sony also touts the PS Vue interface, search and discovery tools, and the ability to watch popular shows within three days of live airing.

PlayStation Vue customers watch more than five hours of TV and video per day, which tops the average television consumption in the 18-34 demo, according to Benefield. Its target users “want a wide assortment of pay TV channels,” he said, disputing the notion that there’s a preference among millennials for “skinny” bundles. The company is not disclosing the number of subscribers it has for the service.

PlayStation Vue is accessible through PlayStation 4, PS3, Amazon Fire TV and Fire TV Stick, as well as iPad and iPhone through the PlayStation Vue mobile app. Google Chromecast is also supported via compatible iOS devices.

Current network programmers include AMC Networks, CBS, Discovery Communications, Disney/ABC Television Group, ESPN, Fox, NBCUniversal, Scripps Networks Interactive, Turner Broadcasting and Viacom. Standalone network channels, including Showtime, Machinima and Fox Soccer Plus, are also available to users nationwide as a la carte offerings.

In addition, the PlayStation Vue service includes access to 60-plus TV Everywhere mobile apps and websites from programming partners.

Sony began running national TV ads promoting the new bundles on Sunday, with radio and online ads to roll out this week as well.

Several years ago, when Sony was in the planning stages for the pay-TV offering, execs had concerns about network neutrality — and the company was seeking assurances that broadband Internet service providers wouldn’t throttle or otherwise discriminate against OTT services. At this point, Benefield said, “We feel comfortable that there are regulatory and competitive factors in place” that make it a non-issue.

More Digital

  • Cenk Uygur

    Bernie Sanders Retracts Endorsement of Young Turks Founder Cenk Uygur After Backlash

    Bernie Sanders pulled his support for Cenk Uygur’s congressional bid, with the Vermont independent in part acknowledging that Sanders’ supporters were “frustrated” about the endorsement. Sanders, who’s running for the 2020 Democratic presidential nomination, cited Uygur’s announcement Friday that he would not be accepting any endorsements. In a statement, Sanders alluded to sexist and other [...]

  • Tana MongeauStreamy Awards, Arrivals, The Beverly

    Streamy Awards 2019: The Complete Winners List

    The 9th Annual Streamy Awards — honoring the best from YouTube and online video — were held Friday night in Beverly Hills. Tana Mongeau (pictured above) was named Creator of the Year and Rhett & Link’s “Good Mythical Morning” won Show of the Year in the two fan-voted Audience Choice categories. David Dobrik picked up [...]

  • NBC News - Quibi

    NBC News Digital Workers Form New Union

    A group of approximately 150 editorial workers who help produce some of NBC News digital content have formed a union, citing a desire to push their employer to work more seriously through such issues as equal pay and the recent handling of sensitive stories. Editorial employees of NBC News Digital won certification of their union [...]

  • Fox Nation Tests Holiday Programming

    Fox Nation Tests Holiday Programming

    The Fox Nation streaming-video service has long been touted as a new option for super-fans of the Fox News Channel. But some of the broadband hub’s new programming choices suggest adherents of “Fox & Friends” and Sean Hannity aren’t looking solely for chatter about politics and interviews with members of the Trump administration. Subscribers to [...]

  • Facebook

    FTC May Stop Facebook From Integrating Whatsapp, Instagram

    The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) is weighing whether it should seek an injunction against Facebook to prevent the social media giant from integrating services like Whatsapp, Messenger and Instagram with its core app, according to reports from the Wall Street Journal and the New York Times. Regulators fear that Facebook’s app integration plans could make [...]

  • Ivanka Trump

    Ivanka Trump Reportedly Set to Speak at CES 2020

    Ivanka Trump, President Donald Trump’s daughter and an adviser to the president, is scheduled to appear on a panel at CES 2020 in January, according to a published report. Ivanka Trump will appear on a panel set for Jan. 8 at 3 p.m. at the Las Vegas confab with Gary Shapiro, president and CEO of [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content