Sony & Dish – Two Sides of a Coin

While Dish may be ushering in a new era of skinnier TV bundles with Sling TV, it looks like Sony is headed completely in the opposite direction. (See Sling TV – Like Pay-TV, but Skinnier.)

According to an early user report, Sony Corp. of America 's PlayStation Vue service appears to include not only a heavy bundle of linear TV channels -- including stations from CBS, NBC, Fox, Viacom, Scripps and Discovery -- but also a slick user interface and comprehensive cloud DVR and video-on-demand features. An anonymous beta tester told GigaOM's Janko Roettgers that the UI is "very snappy" and easy to use. The service also lets users catch up on shows that have aired in the last three days, save favorites to a cloud DVR for up to four weeks and add programs to a list of "my shows" that opens up easy access to previously aired episodes on-demand.

Those features come at a price, however. And while Sony hasn't announced a fee yet, programming costs in the industry are high, and a report last fall suggested that the service would fall somewhere between $60 and $80 per month. (See Sony Goes OTT With PlayStation Vue.)

Want to know more about OTT video? Check out our dedicated OTT content channel here on Light Reading.

Unlike Dish Network LLC (Nasdaq: DISH), Sony is going after the higher end of the pay-TV market. Right now it's missing critical content from the Walt Disney Co. (NYSE: DIS)-owned networks (including ABC and ESPN), and Sony will likely have to correct that flaw if it's going to compete with cable companies. Performance may also be an issue. If there's too much buffering, for example, customers will have a hard time swallowing the hefty monthly fee.

On the other hand, Sony is offering some nice trade-offs. In addition to cloud-based multiscreen features, the company has said its new online video service will be contract-free. That's a pretty big deal given that traditional pay-TV operators like to lock down subscribers with one- and two-year contracts.

In its own way, PlayStation Vue may end up being as disruptive as Sling TV. If the service is executed well, Sony will prove that there's no longer a significant entry barrier for consumer electronics companies that want to get into the pay-TV service game. With enough scale, anyone can join the party. And unlike cable providers, online video companies won't be restricted (at least within the US) to a particular geographic region.

Competition is heating up. Stay tuned for more.

— Mari Silbey, special to Light Reading

jabailo 2/1/2015 | 3:03:33 PM
Re: That much Live? I put myself on the mailing list for Sling...it looks absolutely right on.  $20 a month for video content.

Case in point of the frustration of traditional "channels" is NBC's Sports Extra.  Was reading that they were going to have 10 hours of pre-Super Bowl entertainment available "for free"; however after installing the app, I find that (like many traditional channels) I can only watch it if I have an existing cable subscription (I have Clear Wimax, a pure Internet provider not associated with cable).

So, they entirely miss the point of Internet streaming...or else, they get the point and it worries them.

Really, I also wonder if any type of Portal makes sense any more with Cloud computing.  Other than being a credit card reader, what value added does Netflix, Amazon, even Sling provide that a content provider couldn't secure for himself just putting his offering on the Cloud and letting peope pay for it?   

danielcawrey 2/1/2015 | 2:53:53 PM
Re: That much Live? I think Sling TV is a great idea – although I think I would only watch ESPN, and in the background.

Acutally, what I do right now is just listen to streaming sports radio on SiruisXM. That's probably enought for me. I'm not much of an active television watcher anymore. 
jabailo 1/31/2015 | 1:44:06 PM
Re: That much Live? I heartily agree...it is the same (bad) strategy!

When I saw the XBox One previews I couldn't believe what they were saying. I was expecting mind blowing gaming beyond the previous model.  Instead it tried to be TV for 30 year olds...the last generation's gamers.   Now, as you state, Sony is falling into the same abyss.

Meanwhile, following the correct trend of computers falling in price to pocket calculator levels, Google and Amazon have Chromecast and FireStick...$35 USB plug in devices.  They then let the content providers make the "channels" such as Netflix.

What has replaced the channel though is the episodic serial.  The Walking Dead, House of Cards bingefesters that people will watch end to end.   This amuses me as what we read in school as novels, were originally seriels.  Dickens and others sold their books chapter by chapter which were delivered to eager London doorstops as this weeks episode.  Now we have the luxury of getting it all in season-sized doses.

But really, big expensive boxes are out and channels are defunct.


smkinoshita 1/31/2015 | 1:36:28 PM
Re: That much Live? "My question for Sony would be...why?"

Sounds to me like they're chasing the same idea of Microsoft's "Xbox One", going from game console to entertainment media centre.  I'm honestly very skeptical of that vision, and even more skeptical of Sony's ability to step up to the plate given their history of weak security.  We'll see if other consumers are so willing to entrust Sony with so much again.
jabailo 1/29/2015 | 11:33:32 AM
That much Live? My question for Sony would be...why?   There's sports, news and video talk which need their own live channels.   And I guess it's more efficient to use broadcast methods rather than Internet streams, but is that always going to be the case, if ever?

But for everthing else, on demand internet video has to be the right way.  For example, right now I'm hooked on Storage Wars.  I can't get enough of Darryl, Dave Jarod & Brandi and the rest of the crew.   I binge them 4 episodes at a sitting, but I can't imagine wanting to watch them on a regular channel, where I can't see them in sequence.   Same with the Netflix series The Fall with Gillian Anderson 
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