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Sony joins US TV revolution

News, 20 March 2015
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NEW YORK: Sony, the Japanese technology giant, has become the latest challenger to traditional TV providers in the US after it announced the launch of a new TV streaming service.

Its PlayStation Vue service is targeted at users in New York, Chicago and Philadelphia with prices ranging from $49.99 to $69.99 a month, and customers will not have to sign a contract or pay penalty charges for cancellation.

The service costs more than the offering from rival Sling TV, which charges $20 a month, but will feature a host of channels that includes NBC, CBS, Fox, Nickelodeon and Discovery. However, sports channel ESPN as well as Disney-ABC are absent.

"Cable hasn't evolved much in the past decade and we think users want something better," Eric Lempel, vice-president of Sony Network Entertainment, told the Financial Times.

"Customers told us they wanted channels that were tailored towards them – a bundled offer, but at a competitive price," he added.

Sony said the service will be aimed initially at the 35m American users of PlayStation 3 and PlayStation 4 consoles, an affluent market, before it is extended to tablets and smart TVs.

The move comes in the same week as the Wall Street Journal reported that Apple is preparing to launch its own online TV service later this year.

According to "people familiar with the matter", the US technology giant has been in talks with several major broadcasters and plans to offer consumers a service with 25 channels costing $30 to $40 a month.

Content from broadcasters including ABC, CBS, Fox and Disney would be made available across all Apple devices, such as iPhones and Apple TV set-top boxes.

It remains to be seen whether consumers will rush to embrace these new offerings, or whether the growing number of options available will prove too confusing, but the US TV industry almost certainly faces major change in the near future.

Data sourced from Financial Times, Wall Street Journal; additional content by Warc staff

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