Sony’s PlayStation Vue TV could be first ‘real’ virtual challenge to pay TV

If you’re hoping to jump onto the leading edge of Sony’s soon-to-launch Cloud TV service, Vue, you might want to pack your bags and head to New York, Philadelphia or Chicago… because that’s where Sony it will release the service by the end of the month.

Oh, and you’ll need a Sony PlayStation 4 or PlayStation 3 console because, for the moment, those are your options.

The Wall Street Journal Wednesday reported that Sony said it plans to launch Vue – which reportedly will include CBS, FOX and NBC (but neither Disney’s ABC nor ESPN) and other popular channels – nationwide by year’s end.

Similar to Dish Network’s Sling TV, you won’t need to be a pay-TV subscriber to use the service, but while Dish maintains it’s not looking to hurt service providers (too much, anyway), Sony makes no bones about its desire to play with the big boys.

The service will have at least six-dozen channels available in each of the markets it launches in, that can be watched live in most cases. Users also can record and store programs in the cloud for up to 28 days.

What audience Sony is aiming for with Vue – which it initially announced plans for in November — still isn’t clear. But, the fact that it’s being offered exclusively over its game console (Sony has said it will roll out to iPads and other devices eventually) might be indicative of the direction (young) it intends to head.

The broad channels range suggest the service will be offered for between $50 and $80, which could be off putting to the cord cutters and cord nevers for whom pay-TV – in any form – is an anathema, or at the very least an economic consideration.

The lack of content from ESPN (which is on Sling TV) could be a pretty big hurdle for Vue, especially with a Millennial audience.

But, House said that’s not a worry.

“Even absent ESPN we are very confident that we have a very robust offering in the sports area with existing partnerships,” he said to The Journal.

Meanwhile, Sling TV and CBS All Access – the biggest OTT plays in recent months –report they’ve signed more than 100,000 subscribers each in their time in the market. And, HBO Now this week said it would launch by mid-April.

Will Vue cut a swathe through the ranks of disgruntled pay-TV subscribers? Will it be able to pry open the wallets of cord cutters and cord nevers (not to mention those of Millennials who’ve grown comfortable discovering free content on their own)?

Stay tuned.

Jim O’Neill is Editor of Videomind and Principal Analyst at Brightcove. You can follow him on Twitter @JimONeillMedia and on LinkedIn