Sony is now offering its PlayStation Vue Internet-based streaming television services in 203 markets across the United States, expanding its footprint after offering the services in seven U.S. cities since March 2015.
Pricing for the PlayStation Vue streaming TV service starts at $29.99 a month for the Access Slim plan with more than 55 channels, $34.99 for the Core Slim plan with more than 70 channels and $44.99 for the Elite Slim plan that features more than 100 channels, according to a March 14 announcement from Sony. The services are cloud-based, offer simultaneous streaming for up to seven devices and users at once and require no contracts or equipment rental fees. Consumers can try the service for seven days at no charge.
PlayStation Vue services began in New York, Los Angeles, Chicago, Philadelphia, Dallas, San Francisco and Miami in 2015 and are accessible through a variety of devices, including PlayStation4, PlayStation3, Amazon Fire TV and Fire TV Stick, Apple iPads and iPhones and through the PlayStation Vue mobile app, according to Sony. Google Chromecast is also supported via compatible iOS devices.
PlayStation Vue customers can watch programming, including live and on-demand content from popular TV channels, such as AMC, Disney, ESPN and more. Major network programming, including ABC, FOX and NBC, will only be available as on-demand content that will usually be viewable within 24 hours after its original network airing. CBS live and on-demand programming is not yet available and is expected to be added to select TV markets at a later date, according to Sony.
Local network programming in individual TV markets also will not be viewable using PlayStation Vue plans, but Sony is “working to add live local broadcast stations across all networks to each of the new TV markets” in the future, the company said.
“Since launching a year ago, our priority with PlayStation Vue has been to secure the best TV content for our audience and make it available to consumers nationwide; today, we’re delivering on that promise,” Eric Lempel, senior vice president of marketing and head of PlayStation Network Americas, said in a statement. “PlayStation Vue has been an ambitious project from the start, and national expansion demonstrates our ability to innovate in an industry that’s overdue for a reinvented experience. Thanks to the strong network relationships we’ve forged and technology we’ve built, consumers nationwide can enjoy a better way to watch TV.”
Included with the service is a cloud-based DVR where users can record and store hundreds of shows at once. The service provides storage for thousands of hours of content.
Current network programmers include AMC Networks, CBS, Discovery Communications, Disney/ABC Television Group, ESPN, Fox, NBCUniversal, Scripps Networks Interactive, Turner Broadcasting and Viacom, according to Sony. Stand-alone network channels, including Showtime, Machinima and Fox Soccer Plus, are also available to users nationwide as a la carte offerings.
PlayStation Vue users can access programming from more than 60 network mobile apps or Websites by logging in with their PlayStation Network email address and password.
Streaming TV services continue to gain new offerings as major entertainment players enter the marketplace.
Earlier in March, AT&T and its DirecTV unit announced that its customers will be able to dump their satellite dishes and receive a wide range of video content via wired or wireless Internet streaming on any device under new services that are expected to launch by the end of 2016, eWEEK reported. Under three options, customers will be able to get a multitude of DirecTV Now packages that contain various assortments of content similar to DirecTV content today, DirecTV Mobile packages that they can view anywhere or DirecTV Preview packages with ad-supported free content, according to the companies.
Sony Launches Nationwide Expansion of PlayStation Vue Internet TV
The packages will work over a wired or wireless Internet connection from any provider on a smartphone, tablet, smart TV, streaming media hardware or PC. The services will allow several users to view content over simultaneous sessions, and they will not require annual contracts, satellite dishes or set-top boxes, according to AT&T. The services are expected to begin in the fourth quarter of the year.
In September 2015, Amazon unveiled a line of revamped Fire TV devices and Fire tablets, and announced several new Fire devices. Among the announcements were a new $49.99 price for the 7-inch Fire tablet, the addition of a new 10.1-inch Fire HD 10 tablet and the debut of a new Fire TV Gaming Edition. The latest Amazon Fire TV devices boast 4K Ultra HD, support High Efficiency Video Coding (HEVC), has 75 percent more processing power than the previous version and are priced at $99.99.
The Amazon Fire TV Stick with Voice Remote sells for $49.99. Its voice remote allows users to speak the name of a movie, TV show, actor, director or genre to call up content. It can also be used to ask the Alexa personal digital assistant for weather, sports scores, traffic, music and other information. The Amazon Fire TV Gaming Edition includes a Fire TV Game Controller, a 32 GB microSD card and two popular games—Shovel Knight and Disney’s Ducktales—for a package price of $139.99.
Apple’s fourth-generation Apple TV device hit the market at the end of October 2015 with an improved remote, Siri integration, new capabilities for Apple Music, a new operating system, improved gaming and multiplayer options, and more, according to earlier eWEEK reports. Apple TV now includes a 64-bit A8 processor and fast 802.11ac WiFi and comes in two versions—a 32GB model for $149 and a 64GB model for $199. The earlier Apple TV version costs $69.