The CBS Television Network is now available in nearly half of Sony PlayStation Vue’s footprint, and deals with affiliate stations will soon be locked up so that the network has 75% penetration by the end of 2017, a CBS rep told FierceCable.
With virtual pay-TV rivals Sling TV and DirecTV Now struggling to gain access to Big Four broadcast network live feeds beyond stations owned and operated by the respective networks, Vue’s coverage is notable.
Sony didn’t immediately respond to FierceCable’s inquiries.
Vue began offering access to owned-and-operated stations from ABC, CBS, FOX and NBC last spring. It’s unclear as to how many network affiliates Vue has signed up for ABC, FOX and NBC.
The ability to live-stream local broadcast channels is limited in the two other major virtual MVPD (v-MVPD) services that have launched so far, Dish’s Sling TV and AT&T’s DirecTV Now. Neither platform has access to CBS, and both can offer access to live feeds of ABC, FOX and NBC to subscribers living in areas that are covered by those respective networks’ owned and operated stations.
Service providers can’t live-stream a local network’s channel without first tying up rights to the local station. Networks typically own stations only in the biggest markets, like New York, Los Angeles and Chicago.
In fact, it was reportedly the tedious, complex task of negotiating with the myriad affiliate station groups that stymied Apple's quest to launch a virtual pay-TV service in 2015.
CBS is now fully distributed on CBS Corp.’s direct-to-consumer over-the-top platform, CBS All Access. The so-called Tiffany Network has also signed deals to be carried by Hulu’s upcoming v-MVPD service, as well as Google’s entry into the market, YouTube Unplugged.