Sony launches TV service Playstation Vue, starting at $49.99 a month

Sony flips the switch on Playstation Vue; Web-based TV service launches in just three markets

Sony Playstation is checking out the Vue.

Sony Computer Entertainment on Wednesday launched its cloud-based TV service, called Vue, featuring such popular networks as CBS, Cartoon Network, CNN, Comedy Central, Food Network, Fox, NBC, TBS and Discovery Communications channels including Animal Planet.

The service, which runs on Sony's gaming platform, will be available to PlayStation 4 and PlayStation 3 owners. 

Sony is the latest media company to cobble together a Web-based TV service to appeal to the gamer crowd, cost-conscious young adults and others who live in the 10 million homes in the U.S. without a pay-TV subscription.

For now, Sony is offering Vue in just three metropolitan markets: Chicago, New York and Philadelphia. The basic package of channels, called "Access," will run $49.99 a month.

Sony has been developing an app to make the service available to Apple iPad users. The company also said it plans to introduce the service in additional cities later this year.

One reason for the limited launch is because broadcast networks NBC, CBS and Fox own the TV stations that carry network shows in the three select markets. In a city where a network doesn't own a local station, Sony would have to get clearance from the network's affiliate to run the programming.

The AMC channel, home of "The Walking Dead," and "Mad Men," will be available on the service beginning next month.

For $59.99 a month, Vue subscribers can get the service's basic lineup plus a package that includes Turner Classic Movies and sports outlets, including the Golf Channel and regional sports networks such as the YES Network in New York.

However, sports juggernaut ESPN is not part of the service. None of Walt Disney Co.'s networks, including ABC, ABC Family and Disney Channel, are participating as the two companies do not have a deal in place.

BTIG Research analyst Brandon Ross, in a report, noted the monthly subscription cost for the PlayStation offering might seem high. After all, Dish Network's basic Sling TV package is offered at $19.99 a month -- with add-on packages costing an additional $5 a month.

Apple Inc.'s planned Web-based TV offering is expected to cost around $30 a month.

"However, Sony’s offering is notably different in that it is not just a 'skinny bundle,' as it includes most of the major broadcast networks [CBS, Fox, and NBC], plus many of the top cable channels," Ross said.

Twitter: @MegJamesLAT

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