Sony said to be mulling own pay TV service in U.S.

Even as cable operators continue to leak video subscribers and IPTV providers tread water in the pay TV space, it appears that yet another player--Sony, of all companies--thinks there's money to be made in selling television.

According to a story in Variety, the consumer electronics giant is "in active negotiations with at least two major content companies" about increasing the number of channels they would provide for a package that "could roll out in the U.S. later this year."

The situation is tenuous, as evidenced by the fact that Sony will not be announcing it--as far as anyone knows--at next week's CES in Las Vegas and a Sony spokesman told the publication he would not comment on "rumors or speculation."

That speculation includes the belief that the service would be a package of linear channels similar to what other MVPDs provide, but it would, of course, be delivered via a broadband connection, no doubt making use of Sony Bravia smart TVs, PlayStation 3 gaming devices and Blu-ray players. In this regard, Sony is apparently thinking along the same lines as Intel, which is also said to be developing a pay TV service and accompanying hardware, according to multiple reports.

In Sony's case, the service would be what's often called a "virtual MSO," mirroring the cable TV model but without the need to build infrastructure to residential customers who would, instead, leverage their cable/telco-provided broadband connections.

The service might just be a reaction to a space where Sony competitors like Nintendo and Microsoft (Nasdaq: MSFT) are making inroads with MVPDs and their gaming devices. On top of that, there are also the never-ending sagas of Google (Nasdaq: GOOG) TV, Apple (Nasdaq: AAPL) TV and, more recently, the aforementioned Intel.

Still, as any MVPD can tell you, it costs money to get and aggregate content, and even a company with pockets as deep as Sony might be cowed into submission.

"[T]here is some skepticism that the conglom will make it to market, but so far it has been as serious as any other partner at the negotiation table," the Variety piece reported.

Sony has one thing going for it: Sony Pictures Entertainment, which now runs the Sony Movie Channel and Crackle. Whether that's enough or not will undoubtedly be the subject of a story that could conceivably run until CES 2014.

For more:
- Variety has this story

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