We don't hear much about cable cutters these days, but we do see a lot of developments pushing new services for these. Where before, the cable cutter market was Netflix, Hulu (News - Alert), Amazon, and a few less-than-legal services, we're starting to see a bigger push from all around the market. Sony is looking to get into the market just a little harder with the launch of PlayStation Vue, and there will likely be more such initiatives to follow.
PlayStation Vue is currently available in New York, Chicago and Philadelphia and it's not particularly cheap compared to the alternatives; service ranges from between $50 a month and $70 a month. Three tiers of service—Access, Core, and Elite—offer up several different options; Access, for example, offers most of the basic networks and some cable channels like Cartoon Network, BET (News - Alert), SyFy and others. That's good service, and Core steps it up by adding Yes and the Big Ten Network. Elite opens up the whole slate to include things like Chiller, Cloo and Logo, lesser-known networks that have some specific programming. However, no plan will provide access to Disney (News - Alert)-owned properties, and that includes ABC.
Right now, Vue will be available on PlayStation 3 or 4, with iPad to follow next and the streaming boxes to come soon after. The Xbox line, however, is likely right out. But for those who can use it, there will be access to a kind of cloud-based DVR system that allows for 28 days of storage, and a three-day “catch up” period where an episode can be viewed up to three days after the fact.
Naturally, there are upsides and downsides here; the comparatively limited nature of the service is going to keep the total pool small, and there's a lot of competition out there for services like these. Still, it's a very substantial offering, and even at the full $70 a month, it's still competitive against many current cable brands. Dish Network, for example, offers the Top 120 pack—roughly the same as Access—for $59.99 a month after all the promotions are dead. There's a greater Disney presence there, of course, but the impact is limited.
Indeed, there are a lot of competitors here. We've got the aforementioned streaming services, we've got Apple (News - Alert) TV and the iTunes locker, we've got the new Dish Network-backed Sling TV, which is offering up some impressive gains. Come right down to it, Sony's technically cannibalizing its own market, as Sony has the streaming service Crackle on offer, though Crackle's impact has often been limited. But the key thrust here is that there have never been this many options for cable cutters, and considering that even cable companies are getting involved in the action as Dish Network proves, that's a sign that cable's days of controlling the market may be numbered.
Those interested in Vue can get a free week's trial if in a city where it's available. When it rolls out from there, it's going to be moving into an environment of extreme competition, and will have to work hard to keep viewers interested. Only time will tell just how well Vue does in a very crowded market, but it might just pull off quite a win after all.