PlayStation Vue, Sony's cloud-based TV service, has launched in New York, Chicago and Philadelphia. For owners of a PS3 or PS4, live TV can be streamed and recorded with a monthly subscription to the service, meaning that a regular cable subscription is not necessitated. With a focus on the gaming console's primary demographic of 18-34-year-olds, the Vue is combining a personalized touch to the TV watching experience along with curated content. Following a preview of the new service, here are five things we learned about PlayStation Vue.
1. More than 85 channels will be available per market
Having partnered with a number of the primary networks, including Viacom (MTV, VH1, Spike), NBCUniversal and Fox, Vue will make available a large number of television channels at launch. More partnerships are forthcoming (including AMC networks, which joins the lineup next month), says Sony's Head of PlayStation Vue Dwayne T. Benefield. The service, which can be registered for directly from the PlayStation homescreen, will have three price packages beginning at $49.99 per month, opening up more niche networks and programming to users. This includes market-specific sports networks (Comcast SportsNet, YES Network) at the Core level ($59.99) and various lifestyle, music and family channels (LOGO, TeenNick, VH1 Classic) for Elite users ($69.99).
Given that launch will be limited and the fact that users won't have access to Disney networks like ABC, you may not want to start cutting your cords just yet. However, if Vue proves to be successful, cable companies are about to get some serious competition.
2. One Vue account can be utilized on up to three consoles
Within the same home, simultaneous streaming will be made available with no additional cost. However, only one PS4 account at a time can be used as opposed to using multiple versions of the same console. Though currently available solely on the PlayStation devices, Vue will soon be made accessible via iPad; the date of that launch, however, has yet to be determined.
For a generation that now takes streaming services like HBO Go, et al. for granted, the limited consoles may be less appealing to folks used to sharing passwords amongst multiple households in order to get their Game of Thrones fix. And given that the premium cable network is no longer that concerned with accounts being shared amongst multiple households in the wake of their HBO Now announcement, this may be a deterrent to potential subscribers.
3. Programs can be recorded and saved, while up to three days of television will be available to catch up on
Vue offers a DVR function, allowing users to save a list of favorite TV shows that can be recorded on all available channels, at all times, and saved by the account for 28 days — so prepare to be overwhelmed when catching up on syndicated-to-death favorites, like The Simpsons and Law & Order. (In other words, we hope you really like a staggering number of episodes in random order sitting in your to-watch queue for a month.) Given the increasing popularity of marathon-ready Netflix and Amazon series, this can be either a boon or a burden to viewers who are predisposed to having significant amount of episodes per show they watch available at all times.
But even if a show is not saved to a user's favorites, up to three days of past television programming will be available on the programming guide. So if you missed something on live TV, don't fret — you can just scroll up to the night or the day before, and voila!
4. More streamlined personalization is a key part of the Vue experience
That's right: We're talking an extremely intricate and personalized search functions. Not only will the homescreen make a user's favorites and viewing timeline accessible, it will also have a list of recommended and featured programs as well. The service will also make discovery much more narrowed with its "Explore" function, which offers filters based on genre, TV parental guidelines, length and more. Search combinations will be saved to the Vue account.
Given how many channels can come with a standard cable subscription, the endless scrolling and simple search function can be a bit taxing, to say the least. Vue's experience is much quicker, giving someone who, say, loves cartoons but wants to watch something more mature than what can be found on Cartoon Network or Nickelodeon a better opportunity to filter through their options. This could potentially appeal to parents on the opposite side of the spectrum as well: You'll probably want to keep those younger Spongebob fans away from shows like, say, Archer.
5. Movies will also be available
Vue's movie selection is based off what's played on the available channels — for better or worse, there's currently no separate film library for users. Like the live TV shows, however, movies can be recorded and saved on a user's Vue account, and with the addition of AMC channels like IFC, AMC and Sundance, your selection is still broad. PlayStation is probably not looking to compete with Netflix or HBO's multiple platforms on this level, but it can potentially open up better accessibility to much harder to find made-for-TV films. And given the sheer amount of viewing possibilities available, the fact that you might not be able to find Transformers: Age of Extinction doesn't mean that you'll be left with nothing to watch on Friday night.