There are more ways than ever to watch big-name, quality video programming online. In addition to streaming video services like Netflix, Hulu, and Amazon, cable networks HBO, Starz, and Showtime announced they’d soon begin online streaming-only subscriptions. Now Sony is planning a streaming service, PlayStation Vue, which will offer online viewers a network of 75 popular TV channels.

Popular Channels and Features Included

Unlike individual channels going online, Sony will be delivering content from multiple providers, just as cable and satellite TV companies do. Although Sony hasn’t published a full list of channels, they do mention Viacom channels like Comedy Central, MTV, VH1, and Nickelodeon will be included. They’ve also mentioned Discovery Networks, including Discovery Channel, TLC, and Animal Planet, as well as local CBS, FOX, and NBC channels.

The Cloud-based service will include On Demand and DVR capabilities, with no storage limit for the latter. There will be a recorded library of popular programming so when you forget to watch and/or record something, you can still see it.

The Details

Initial testing of PlayStation Vue will soon begin for an invitation-only list of PlayStation 3 and PlayStation 4 owners. But it’s not just for gamers, as Sony intends to make the service available on other devices, specifically mentioned was the iPad. Pricing isn’t currently set, but Sony indicated its pricing will be transparent, without hidden fees, equipment to purchase, or introductory rates that expire and then go up. And subscribers will pay month-by-month instead of signing up for a contract. Full details should come with the commercial launch in early 2015.

On the Other Hand

Vue isn’t going to be the answer to everyone’s question. Much like satellite TV providers, it’s not the end of cable, just an alternative. Nor is Vue the a la carte channel option that so many have asked for; subscribers will still be paying for at least a few channels they won’t be watching. It could also face potential bandwidth throttling by Internet providers, which already happened to Netflix.

There’s no doubt any new twist on an existing model faces new challenges, but as the satellite providers found success, so could Sony. After all, it developed the most popular game console of all time, and it’s one of the companies that pioneered the compact disc. Sony knows how to disrupt established technologies.

Can We Still Call it “Watching TV”?

Pretty soon, studios and other content creators will need a new word to describe video content originally designed for TV, but not actually watched on one. It’s a question that will be asked more often as more video viewing shifts online. If PlayStation Vue ends up a success, other competitors will try to match it. If it fails, new companies will try to succeed in its place. The success of streaming video and music services does show a definite trend for traditional offline content going online, so why not TV?

You’ll Still Need a Fast Connection

PlayStation Vue will deliver the content, but subscribers will still need an Internet connection capable of maintaining seamless playback and picture quality. If you like the idea of watching your favorite shows online, but you don’t think your current plan is good enough, it’s time to see what other plans are out there.

Image by David Wulff/Flickr

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