Viacom’s networks no longer will be part of the subscription service as of Friday, Dwayne Benefield, vice president and head of PlayStation Vue, announced Tuesday in a blog post. Instead, Sony appears to be freeing up financial resources to add major broadcast networks CBS and Fox.
“At PlayStation, we always strive to provide the best value and service for our fans,” Benefield wrote in a blog post on the company’s website. “As part of our ongoing evaluation of the PlayStation Vue offering, we have determined that removing the bundle of channels from Viacom is the best way for us to continue to offer the most compelling value to our fans.”
The Sony Vue subscription ranges from $39.99 to $74.99 a month, depending on the channel lineup.
Sony’s service — which has roughly 350,000 subscribers — soon will have more competition. AT&T’s DirecTV Now streaming service is expected to launch later this month, joining Sling TV, which is owned by Dish Networks. Viacom’s channels are part of Sling TV and will be part of DirecTV Now.
Online video site Hulu also is gearing up to offer its own package of existing television channels and has engaged in carriage talks with programmers about their channels.
PlayStation Vue will have a few new channels, including BBC America, NBA TV and Vice. The company plans “more local broadcast stations from CBS and Fox,” Benefield said in the post.
Viacom declined to comment.
The move underscores the challenges facing the media company, which is controlled by billionaire Sumner Redstone. Viacom has experienced months of management turmoil and falling ratings at its key networks, including MTV and Comedy Central.
Viacom was the inaugural partner of the PlayStation Vue when Sony was planning the service in 2014 because the Viacom channels, including Spike and Comedy Central, appealed to the same young audience that uses PlayStation.
But since then, Viacom networks experienced ratings erosion, and key personalities, including Jon Stewart, Stephen Colbert, Samantha Bee and John Oliver, have decamped to rival networks. It was unclear whether Sony’s move to dump the Viacom channels was an attempt to win leverage in contract talks, which had been underway.
On Oct. 31, Viacom named a new acting chief executive — the company’s third in three months. Acting Chief Executive Robert Bakish, who previously ran Viacom’s international business, simultaneously will serve as the chief executive of the TV networks group that includes Comedy Central, MTV, VH1, Spike and TV Land.
Bakish officially assumes his new role next week.