Sony has announced that its virtual pay-TV service, PlayStation Vue, will no longer carry Viacom channels effective Nov. 12.
“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,” said Dwayne Benefield, VP and head of PlayStation Vue, in a blog post.
While announcing that his streaming service will no longer carry MTV, BET, Comedy Central and Nickelodeon, among other Viacom networks, Benefield simultaneously said that the service would add more local stations for FOX and CBS, as well as cable channels NBA TV and BBC America.
Viacom was the first program partner announced by Sony for its fledgling Vue service back in 2014. But in deciding not to renew its carriage deal with the struggling media conglomerate, Sony is following a playbook already sketched out by mid-sized cable operators including Suddenlink Communications and Cable One.
Both MSO’s opted not to pursue renewal with Viacom several years ago. And both operators have insisted that the number of lost subscribers has been worth the positive impact to their overall programming costs.
In the case of PlayStation Vue, Sony is fighting to maintain its price points — $39.99 a month for a base tier that includes more than 60 channels — amid a flurry of emerging virtual MVPD competition.
Not only has Dish’s Sling TV expanded the programming in its $20-a-month live-streaming service, but AT&T is about to debut the $35-a-month DirecTV Now platform that has more than 100 channels.
There are 10 Viacom networks in Vue’s base package, called “Access” — MTV, MTV2, Nickelodeon, Nick Jr., Nicktoons, VH1, Comedy Central, Spike, TV Land and BET.
“Comedy Central is one of the few channels I actually watch, and my daughter watched Nick Jr. I’m in my third month of Vue and it just renewed a couple days ago,” said one commenter on Benefield’s blog, indicating he is about to drop the service.
In late-June, Bloomberg reported that PlayStation Vue eclipsed the 100,000 subscriber mark, but Sony has yet to officially disclose how many customers take its live streaming service.
In his company's third-quarter earnings call today, Dish Network Chairman and CEO Charlie Ergen called Vue' s decision a win for consumers. "That's a lower cost for Sony viewing," he told investors. "If you don't want Viacom channels, you don't have to buy them. That's a change. That's going to put pressure on all content providers."