Sony’s Streaming TV Service Will Offer 75 Channels, Start Testing This Month, But For How Much?

Sony has finally provided some concrete details on its much anticipated streaming TV service, including a name, an expected launch window, and some info about its channel lineup, but the company still isn’t saying how much it’s going to charge.

The company has confirmed that the service, called PlayStation Vue, will launch as an invite-only beta test later this month for PlayStation 3 and 4 users in New York City, followed by further testing in Chicago, Philadelphia, and Los Angeles, before going nationwide in early 2015.

The company says it won’t reveal the price until it’s ready for that commercial launch next year, but it’s reportedly been pegged in the $60-80/month range. Whether that’s a good deal for you depends largely on your current pay-TV carrier and your package.

However, Sony is promising a “fair and competitive” price that has “no hidden fees or charges.” Additionally, users don’t need to commit to a contract for PS Vue or pay for additional equipment (assuming they already own a PlayStation 3 or 4, though Sony says it will soon launch the service on iPad and other devices soon).

The initial lineup will feature around 75 channels, including slates of channels from Discovery Communications (Discovery Channel, TLC, Animal Planet, Investigation Discovery, the Oprah Winfrey Network, Discovery Family); Scripps (HGTV, Food Network, Travel Channel, DIY Network and Cooking Channel); and Viacom (BET, CMT, Comedy Central, MTV, Nickelodeon, Spike, VH1).

Sony also says that local broadcast networks will be available, but only specifically calls out CBS, FOX, and NBC (along with their various related cable channels) as being confirmed. The absence of any mention of ABC or its parent company Disney — which has made a deal for a similar streaming service being launched by Dish — makes one wonder whether or not users will have access to their local ABC affiliate through PS Vue. The announcement from Sony says the service includes “local broadcast channels,” but conspicuously omits the word “all” from that sentence.

In addition to live TV and on-demand offerings, Sony says that PS Vue gives users access to the previous three days’ worth of “popular programming” so that users who forget to schedule a recording may not have to freak out or wait for a rerun.

The cloud-based DVR service has no storage limits and no restrictions on overlapping programs. Users can also tag “favorite” shows, giving them access to broadcasts for 28 days.

“Everyday TV is about to become extraordinary with our new cloud-based TV service, PlayStation Vue,” said Andrew House, President and Group CEO of Sony Computer Entertainment Inc. in a statement.

In addition to the lingering question of price, there is also the issue of how much data this service will consume and whether it will trigger data caps put in place by certain cable operators. If demand for the service gets too hight, cable companies could also pull what they did with Netflix, allowing the data to bottleneck until Sony pays for a more direct connection to end-users.

Want more consumer news? Visit our parent organization, Consumer Reports, for the latest on scams, recalls, and other consumer issues.