Sony is launching a cloud television streaming service called PlayStation Vue, and when it does it’ll be just one more thing the PS4 might have over Microsoft’s Xbox One console.
Sony hasn’t yet posted anything on its PlayStation Blog, but the company briefed a few media outlets on the coming live television streaming service recently. Articles based on those briefing materials have started appearing across the web, including at The Verge. Sony did provide some details about the new subscription service in a release.
At its core, PlayStation Vue is an easy way to get content without having to sign up for a contract with a big cable company like Comcast or Verizon. The service is live television and on-demand streaming rolled into one. The live streaming works just as users might expect it to. Users simply flip to a channel they want to watch and a video feed from that channel shows up just like it would if they had a cable subscription.
The on-demand portion of PlayStation Vue works a bit differently. PlayStation Vue will let subscribers enjoy content that has already aired in the past 28 days. On day 29, a show that’s already aired isn’t available anymore on the service. Sony balances that by taking out all the hassle of pre-recording programming. There’s no harddrive storage or conflicts to worry about because shows that are flagged for later watching in PlayStation Vue are saved on Sony’s servers for 28 days.
PlayStation Vue also solves another big problem: remembering to record shows at all. Shows that air on PlayStation Vue channels are saved for three days automatically. During that three-day period anyone and everyone can watch a show whether they’ve flagged it or not. Sony says it’s addressing the biggest living room issue of all too. “Vue is simple to navigate and intuitive to use.“
Most television and streaming services require a box of some kind to be plugged into your television. PlayStation Vue is no different in that respect, Sony’s PS3 and PS4 video game consoles will act as PlayStation Vue set-top boxes. Sony has plans to roll out PlayStation Vue to other Sony devices and even Apple’s iPad at some point in the future. Because of the deals Sony has to make with individual networks, the service will gradually roll out. Los Angeles, Chicago, Philadelphia PS3 and PS4 owners will get an invite to test the service at Sony’s discretion. Sony hopes to launch the service in a complete form in 2015.
Read: Xbox One Review
With any entertainment service, content is key. In fact, content deals believed to be why Sony-rival Microsoft went with the Kinect 2 sensor and HDMI pass-through port for its television offerings on the Xbox One. Sony has lined up the networks of CBS, Discovery Communications, Fox, NBCUniversal, Scripps and Viacom. That’s roughly most of the channels that users get on basic cable. There are some key providers missing though. Sony doesn’t have a deal with Disney. As such, the Disney Channel and ABC are completely missing from the service.
To get around content deals Microsoft lets users plug-in their cable box directly to the Xbox One. The Kinect 2 sensor then communicates with the cable box and replaces its entire interface. Though this means every channel a user might want is directly available through the Xbox interface, it also means that users have to keep their cable subscription or be satisfied with over-the-air HD broadcast offerings. PlayStation Vue is more of a cable replacement than the current scheme on the Xbox One ever could be.
Though Sony’s press replace repeatedly mentions that there are no contracts involved with PlayStation Vue, it doesn’t mention a specific price. Sony says users will pay a “fair and competitive price.” That’s about it.