PlayStation Vue chief says vMVPDs will lead to more stacking, fewer channels

Dwayne Benefield (left) talks with Dan Rayburn (right) during the Streaming Summit Wednesday at the NAB Show in Las Vegas. (Ben Munson/FierceCable)

LAS VEGAS—The inaugural Streaming Summit kicked off Wednesday at the NAB Show with a keynote presentation from Dwayne Benefield, head of PlayStation Vue.

PlayStation Vue has been in the streaming TV market for year and it competes directly with Dish’s Sling TV, AT&T’s DirecTV Now, Hulu and YouTube TV. Benefield said there may be more competitors that emerge, but he doesn’t expect many more than the five big virtual MVPDs currently operating.

He did praise more entrants coming into the market because it raises awareness that consumers can stream live multichannel television over the internet. Benefield said that free trials help and the media help build awareness.

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As awareness and availability of vMVPDs continues growing, Benefield said that windowing and packaging strategies will change. He said that consumers should expect a lot more stacking with full back seasons and current episodes available on-demand. He said that programmers are pulling back rights from SVOD so they can offer those rights to streaming TV providers.

But as stacking rights expand, the channel ecosystem could shrink. Benefield predicted that smaller channels will continue to fall away as they find it increasingly difficult to keep pace with rising investment in quality content. And as pay TV subscribers continue to decline, it will be harder for smaller programmers to make enough money to sustain their businesses.

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Besides offering up his views on emerging trends, Benefield provided some updates and numbers concerning PlayStation Vue. He said that now more than 70% of PlayStation Vue’s streaming takes place on non-PlayStation devices, and that the service is averaging more than five hours of watch time per day, per user.

PlayStation has 70 million monthly active users in 165 countries. Benefield said those users were frustrated with legacy cable and satellite services, so PlayStation created Vue to address that.

PlayStation Vue offers up to five simultaneous streams, cloud DVR and works on Android and iOS devices, Google Chromecast, Roku, Amazon Fire TV, Apple TV, Android TV, web as well as PlayStation 3 and 4.