Sony filled a major programming gap in its PlayStation Vue service, signing a deal with the Walt Disney Co. to add ESPN, ABC-owned local stations, Disney Channel, ABC Family and several other networks to its streaming pay-TV service.
Sony said local ABC affiliate stations "will have the opportunity to opt-in to the PlayStation Vue service with their live linear programming."
The lack of a deal with ESPN, coupled with its $50-a-month base price point, had put Vue at a distinct disadvantage to other cloud-based pay-TV offerings, notably Dish's $19.99-a-month Sling TV service.
However, the Disney deal brings Vue the full complement of ESPN channels -- everything from ESPN 2 to ESPN Classic to ESPN Buzzer Beater.
What wasn't announced is when the channels will join the service, as well as how the networks will be parsed out in terms of premium pricing. For example, will the $50 base package include ESPN? Will Sony have to increase the price of its bundles to offset what was undoubtedly a pricy program acquisition? Sony's Vue representatives did not immediately respond to questions on the topic.
"This deal demonstrates our continued commitment to offer the best content on TV to PlayStation Vue users," said Dwayne Benefield, chief of Sony's PlayStation Vue. "The addition of Disney and ESPN's primetime programming and live marquee sports to our portfolio ensures subscribers will have access to the most popular network programming on television today. We're also proud to be the first Internet-based pay TV service to offer Disney's networks with the streaming features that set PlayStation Vue apart from the industry, making TV viewing a more enjoyable experience for the whole household."
As part of its deal, Vue will gain access to an on-demand program library of Disney and ESPN content. This will include ABC prime time programming. Vue also enables simultaneous streams, meaning more than one family member can access the service concurrently in or out of the home.
"PlayStation Vue provides a unique way to engage with our content and an opportunity to reach a segment of viewers who want a different kind of television experience," added Justin Connolly, executive VP of affiliate sales and marketing for Disney and ESPN Media Networks. "The addition of our content to the PlayStation Vue platform will make the offering more compelling as consumers navigate their video options."
Disney is no stranger to the streaming video market. The company also has a major deal in place that will in part allow Netflix access to Star Wars: The Force Awakens, though it can only stream that movie in Canada.
- read this Sony press release
Amazon is the latest to explore a live-TV streaming service, reports say
Sony expands PlayStation Vue to Dallas and Miami; reach still 'low,' analyst says
Sony expands Vue to L.A. and S.F, underwhelms cord-cutters with tiny a la carte offering