If one poses the question, “Where do you watch TV the most?” to a college student, chances are the response will be Netflix, Hulu or Amazon. The popularity of streaming invites competition to enter the market and further challenge the share of cable and satellite providers. Such is the case with Sony’s PlayStation Vue, Sony’s new digital streaming service that will be released later this year in select markets––including New York––until its wider release in 2015. Whether it’s binge watching that new, addictive series or simply catching up on the latest episode of a favorite show, these services make television more accessible than ever before—especially compared to cable. PlayStation Vue will be packaged with 75 networks, typical for an average cable subscription.
There are more than a few notable absences, however, including any channel owned by Disney––ABC and ESPN––and Time Warner––HBO, TBS and CW. Two of the biggest differences between Vue and other streaming services are its exclusivity to PlayStation consoles and its speculated price of $60 a month.
Sony recognizes that younger generations consume large amounts of entertainment and are reluctant to subscribe to cable when Netflix, Hulu and Amazon offer such good comparative value. The same line of reasoning, however, makes me hesitant about PlayStation Vue.
Much of the same content is offered for a far lower price from other streaming services, and none of them are restricted solely to PlayStation consoles; a further investment ranging from $199 to $399. Its exclusivity to PlayStation devices—where it would face competition from Netflix, Hulu and Amazon—make Vue appealing to a very niche market. It offers no distinct advantage over the other streaming services, and its rigid structure makes it more akin to a cable package than a streaming service.
Even if PlayStation Vue were marketed more as an alternative to cable, it would still not be well-positioned to succeed. PlayStation users tend to be younger—a demographic less likely to buy cable— similar to Netflix, Hulu and Amazon subscribers.
PlayStation Vue has to either vastly improve its value or significantly undercut its competitors. If not, its lack of content, redundancy and confinement to PlayStation platforms will prove that it’s not a worthy financial investment