Japanese consumer electronics giant Sony has recently taken the wraps off of their rumored internet TV service, to be known as Playstation Vue. Though the service is already grabbing headlines not for what it can do, but for what it can’t. Most notably: show you some of the most popular channels on cable TV like those from Disney (ESPN, Disney Channel) and Turner Broadcasting (TNT, TBS, Cartoon Networks). ABC and HBO are also absent from the lineup. Despite these holes in the lineup, Sony hopes that their attempt to re-imagine television for the 21st century (a long overdue endeavor) will get people to come onboard.
Lets start with the basics: how the service gets to consumers. The main vehicle will be Sony’s Playstation 3 and Playstation 4 game consoles, millions of which are already connected to televisions world wide. By having these consoles double as a set top cable box, Sony has already taken a step forward from the other cable providers. Rather than adding another bulky box to the mix, Playstation Vue customers will be able to use a single device to watch TV, play games, watch DVDs, access the internet, and more. Since many people already have a compatible device, and those who don’t can easily buy one at any major retailer, there’s no need for any sort of installation, no need to take a day off from work to wait for a cable guy, and no monthly equipment rental fee. Since the service is web-delivered, in theory it should work on all devices, but only an app for Apple’s iPad is in the works so far.
Sony has also promised that the service will be free of confusing contracts and hidden fees. The sticker price is the price you pay, and you can cancel at any time without penalty. That’s sure to be a breath of fresh air to customers of the cable companies, some of whom this year made more money from monthly equipment rental fees than they did from airing the Olympic Games. While Sony’s service is rumored to cost between $60 and $80 a month, roughly the same price as cable, straightforward pricing offers a lot of appeal.
Big questions for Sony still remain. While they’ve definitely got some ideas that consumers will love, price could be the service’s Achilles heel. Price is the number one complaint about cable TV, leading many consumers to cut the cord. Will those same frustrated customers willingly shell out essentially the same price for a similar product sans ESPN, TNT, and other popular channels? If you’re getting less for the same price, can that even be considered cord cutting? Or will a more consumer-friendly approach alone be enough to lure disgruntled customers from companies like Comcast and Time Warner with dismal customer satisfaction ratings?
The potential is there for Sony to either shake things up, or fall completely flat. But either way, they deserve some credit for recognizing the shortcomings of today’s TV options and seeking to create a more modern product. Even if it fails, Sony’s web-delivered product probably looks a bit closer to the television experience of the future than that offered by the cable companies, despite potentially fatal shortcomings. At FreeCast Inc, we’ve tried to mitigate many of those problems with our own Rabbit TV Plus service. It’s pricing is not only straightforward, it’s extremely low at only $10 a year. Like Sony’s service, it’s web-delivered, but runs in a web browser, making it available on your PC, smartphone, tablet, or any other internet connected device. Perhaps most importantly, Rabbit TV Plus is composed of a massive library of free and premium content, including live events, linear channels, and on-demand shows and movies.