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PlayStation Vue, internet-based cable TV-like service, coming to PS3, PS4 and more

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Sony is bringing an internet-based television service, PlayStation Vue, to PlayStation consoles and other devices later this year, the company announced today.

"PlayStation Vue reinvents the traditional viewing experience so your programming effortlessly finds you, enabling you to watch much more of what you want and search a lot less," said Andrew House, president and group CEO of Sony Computer Entertainment, in a press release today. "PlayStation Vue brings the best of live TV and a robust catalog of the latest content, always keeping you connected to what's popular, new and trending. Today's announcement builds on the historic success of PlayStation 4 and demonstrates what our company is capable of when we embrace disruption and stay true to gamers."

PlayStation Vue will launch with a package of "around 75 channels per market," said Sony. That includes local broadcast networks as well as cable channels from media companies such as Fox, NBCUniversal and Viacom. On-demand content will also be a part of the service, with the previous three days of "popular programming" available at all times, plus the ability for viewers to save episodes of their favorite shows to the cloud and retain access for up to 28 days. Here's a partial list of channels straight from Sony:

  • CBS - At launch, PlayStation Vue will offer the live linear signal from CBS Television Network's owned-and-operated TV stations in select leading markets in addition to on-demand prime-time programming.
  • Discovery Communications - Discovery Channel, TLC, Animal Planet, Investigation Discovery, Science, OWN: Oprah Winfrey Network, Discovery Family Channel and 11 more brands.
  • Fox - Fox Networks Group's portfolio of national entertainment programming services, including - FX, FXX, FXM, National Geographic Channel and Nat Geo WILD. Additionally FOX Sports' national and regional programming services - FOX Sports 1, FOX Sports 2, BTN, Fox's regional sports networks, including YES Network and Prime Ticket. The agreement also covers Fox's owned and operated television stations.
  • NBCUniversal - All local offerings from NBC, Telemundo and regional sports networks as well as Bravo, CNBC, E!, NBCSN, Oxygen, Sprout, Syfy, USA Network and more.
  • Scripps Networks Interactive - HGTV, Food Network, Travel Channel, DIY Network and Cooking Channel.
  • Viacom - BET, CMT, Comedy Central, MTV, Nickelodeon, Palladia, Spike, VH1 and more.

That lineup is missing channels from two major media conglomerates: Disney, which owns ABC and ESPN, and Time Warner, the parent company of Turner (Cartoon Network, CNN, TNT, TBS and more) and HBO. Sony executives told the New York Times that they're in "active discussions" with other content partners.

According to Sony, PlayStation Vue will deliver a more modern TV-watching experience than legacy cable providers. Users will easily be able to search for the programming they want, and an "explore" feature will let viewers filter live programming and on-demand offerings by parameters like length, program type, genre, popularity and more.

Sony gave no details about pricing for PlayStation Vue, but said that it will offer subscriptions on a month-to-month basis at a "fair and competitive price" with no contracts, no hidden fees and no cancellation charges. PlayStation Vue will launch in an invite-only beta later this month on PlayStation 3 and PlayStation 4, first in New York and then in Chicago, Philadelphia and Los Angeles. Sony plans to bring the service to iPad "shortly thereafter," and at some point after that to additional devices from Sony and other companies. The full commercial launch of PlayStation Vue is currently scheduled for the first quarter of 2015.

House initially announced Sony's plans for an internet-based TV service during CES 2014 in January. Rumors about the service had been circulating since at least January 2013, when Variety reported that the company was negotiating with two different content providers about a cable TV-like service. The Wall Street Journal reported in mid-August 2013 that Sony had inked a deal with Viacom for that service. PlayStation Vue is the biggest example yet of television for people who don't have a cable subscription. HBO announced last month that it plans to launch its own cable-free streaming service in 2015.