Sony’s PlayStation 4 is enjoying a massively successful first year, flipping the PS3’s dismal launch script around. While the PS4 is enjoying more success than the PS3 did, the PS3 still has one distinct advantage over its descendent: media playback. With today’s announcement of the PlayStation Vue, a cloud-based TV streaming service, Sony aims to close that media gap.
Despite all of the Xbox One’s problems prior to, during, and after launch, the console had one distinct feature it could lord over its competitor: live TV playback. Last generation, the PS3 was far and away one of the best media hubs on the market — it effortlessly streamed media from your PC, could play external media, had a variety of music, movie, and TV apps, introduced Remote Play, and of course, had a library of great games. On top of that, someone may even lean over to you, look around for any eavesdroppers, and tell you in a hushed tone that, thanks to the PC streaming and external media playback, the PS3 is also one of the easiest ways to get pirated media onto your television.
Perhaps in an effort to not only curb potential piracy, as well as to obviously force more people onto paid services, the PS4 removed DLNA support and external media playback. PlayStation Vue should help alleviate the PS4 user’s inability to use their fancy game console as their one true entertainment hub.
The beta, which will be available on the PS4 and PS3 by the end of November, will contain content from 75 channels per market, including major players like NBC, Fox, CBS, Discovery, and Viacom (MTV, Nickelodeon, Comedy Central). At the moment, Disney properties like ABC and ESPN, as well as premium channels like HBO, are not listed. Vue will recommend programming based on your viewing habits and what’s trending on the service, and will have the past three days of programming available without requiring you to DVR it. You can store shows to the cloud and they’ll last for 28 days, though that might not be long enough for people with a large backlog.
As for pricing, Sony didn’t disclose any numbers, but did say that PlayStation Vue will be offered on a contract-free, month-to-month basis. If you don’t own a PS4 or PS3, PS Vue will be coming to the iPad not long after the console beta releases, and will eventually make its way to both Sony and non-Sony devices.
From the announcement, it doesn’t look like PlayStation Vue will help the PS4 or PS3 replace your cable subscription, but partnered with the other media apps and services available on the consoles, Sony is inching closer toward providing a cable-free media alternative on a single device.
If you’re not into betas, Sony plans to officially launch the service in the US sometime in early 2015.
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