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Sony's PlayStation Vue Internet television streaming service is now live in select cities, offering three different packages that look more like cable and satellite provider lineups than an over-the-top offering.
The introductory Access package includes more than 50 channels with local favorites like CBS, NBC and FOX as well as network staples such as Cartoon Network / Adult Swim, Comedy Central, Discovery Channel, FX, MTV and FOX Sports 1 & 2. It's priced at $49.99 per month.
The Core package commands an extra $10 per month and includes everything in the Access bundle plus a small selection of local sports channels. The $69.99 Elite package, meanwhile, comes with everything in the two other packages in addition to two dozen or so lifestyle, music and family channels.
PlayStation Vue also offers a collection of on-demand content and more importantly, a cloud-based DVR. AMC is also coming in April, we're told.
Last month, Dish Chairman Charlie Ergen told investors that Sony's service, not Sling TV, should be hailed as a disruptor in the pay-TV industry. Now that we have the details of PlayStation Vue, however, I'm not sure if Ergen really believed that or was simply trolling us all.
Sony's new service is missing Disney-owned ABC and perhaps more importantly, the ESPN family. The sports fans among us will likely see this as a deal-breaker. The service is also limited to PlayStation 3 and PlayStation 4 devices at the moment (that's a combined install base of 35 million in the US) and is currently available in just three cities: Chicago, New York and Philadelphia. More devices and cities are coming, however.
Despite its much improved UI, vast channel lineup and cloud-based DVR, I suspect most will be disappointed with the price. Starting at $50, the service is hardly any cheaper than traditional services (and less of a value if you're on a promotional rate). Some will find value in the aforementioned improvements and it's great to see additional options but make no mistake, this isn't catered to cord cutters.
Sony is offering PlayStation Vue free as part of a seven-day trial; after that, users will be charged the regular rate on a monthly basis. They're free to cancel at any time as there are no contracts to contend with.