Sony launches US subscription TV to compete with cable

WASHINGTON (AFP) - Sony announced on Wednesday it was launching an Internet subscription television service that includes live feeds from major broadcast networks, mounting a challenge to the cable TV model.

PlayStation Vue, a cloud-based TV service, will initially be available in New York, Chicago and Philadelphia to customers with the PlayStation 4 and PlayStation 3 game consoles, and later to customers with Apple iPads.

The offering from the Japanese electronic giant is one of a range of new TV services aimed at challenging the cable TV giants and their large bundled programming.

Sony's service will include both live and on-demand programming, combining features from both cable TV and streaming services like Netflix.

Earlier this year, Dish Network announced a service called Sling TV which offers live sports through the ESPN channels and news from CNN and Bloomberg, among others. Apple is expected to launch a service later this year which features live feeds.

On-demand services such as Netflix and Hulu have become popular but lack the live network shows that have been available up to now only with a cable or satellite subscription.

"The TV experience needs a revolution and PlayStation Vue changes the rules by embracing how today's viewers want to discover and enjoy content," said Mr Andrew House, head of Sony Computer Entertainment.

"PlayStation Vue modernises the TV viewing experience, taking the best of live TV and on-demand content and bringing it to the PlayStation ecosystem in a way that gives control back to viewers and enables them to spend more time watching their favorite programs and less time channel surfing using outdated menus."

The service will be offered at prices ranging from US$49.99 to US$69.99 (S$68.69 to S$96.26) depending on the channels, with no long-term contract required.

PlayStation Vue will offer CBS, NBC and Fox local channel feeds, essentially replicating the experience of cable. The ABC network however is absent from the deal.

A number of cable stations will also be available, such as Fox Sports, National Geographic, Animal Planet, Discovery, Bravo and Cartoon Network.