(Reuters) – Sony Corp on Wednesday launched its PlayStation Vue Web video service in three cities, targeting customers looking for cheaper alternatives to cable with packages starting at $50.
The Web and cloud-based television service, which allows users to access live TV and on-demand video, has been in test mode since November. Sony joins several new competitors in online video services with one of the largest packages of channels.
Vue will be available initially on PlayStation 4 and PlayStation 3 video game consoles in New York, Chicago and Philadelphia starting Wednesday, then expand to other cities and for iPad users shortly.
Sony’s service will have more than 85 channels, including programming from three major networks, CBS, Fox and NBCUniversal [CMCSAN.UL] in addition to media companies Discovery Communications , Scripps Networks Interactive, Turner Broadcasting [TWXTB.UL] and Viacom. The $50-per-month starter package offers over 50 channels.
AMC Network content will also be available from April, said Eric Lempel, vice president of business and operations, Americas at Sony Network Entertainment. More content deals were in the works, he added.
Viewers can also opt for a $60-a-month package that also includes local sports channels. A $70-a-month service adds some music, lifestyle and family channels, Sony said.
PlayStation Vue will compete with Dish Network Corp, which unveiled a $20-a-month video streaming service, named Sling TV, targeted at younger consumers who shun pricey cable and satellite subscriptions. Netflix Inc and Amazon Inc have been offering on-demand online video content through licensing deals with media networks for years.
Wireless carrier Verizon Communications Inc is gearing up to launch its own online video service this summer.
Sling TV is available through Internet-connected devices such as Amazon Fire TV, Roku and Google Inc’s Nexus Player for TVs, tablets, computers and smartphones and includes TV programming from ABC, ESPN and Maker Studios, Time Warner’s TNT, CNN, TBS, Cartoon Network and Adult Swim, and Food Network, HGTV and Travel Channel.
Apple Inc is in talks with programmers to offer a slimmed-down bundle of about 25 channels, including ABC, CBS and Fox networks this fall, the Wall Street Journal reported on Monday, citing people familiar with the matter.
That would be available across all devices powered by Apple’s iOS operating system, including iPhones, iPads and Apple TV set-top boxes, the newspaper said.