Sony unveils pay-TV service PlayStation Vue ... sans ESPN

Leveraging its installed base of 35 million U.S. PlayStation 3 and 4 consoles, Sony unveiled long-anticipated plans for its new, cloud-based pay-TV service Thursday.

The service, which will start out with 75 channels from programmers including Viacom, CBS Corp, NBCUniversal, Fox and Scripps, will kick off with invite-only, fourth-quarter trials in New York, Los Angeles, Chicago and Philadelphia, before being introduced to the public at large in the first quarter of 2015.

The service launches without a major pay-TV linchpin, Disney's ESPN. In fact, no programming from Disney or Time Warner Inc. has been licensed for Vue yet.

Sony, which is launching the service through its Network Entertainment International unit, didn't disclose pricing information. But Andrew House, president of parent division Sony Computer Entertainment, told the Wall Street Journal, "I'm not looking at it in terms of a substantial discount. I'm looking to offer a better sense of value for money."

In October, the New York Post reported that the service would be priced at around $80 per month.

Sony is touting a cloud-based DVR for the service, which allows users to "favorite" up to 500 shows, recording all their episodes and saving each up to 28 days after run date.

Sony also plans to eventually extend the service to IP devices not manufactured by Sony, such as the iPad.

"We're going after the PlayStation user who is today not watching TV and driving a large ratings decline and is at high risk for leaving [the pay-TV ecosystem]," said Amit Nag, senior director of business management and content for PlayStation Vue, to the Journal.

For more:
- read this Wall Street Journal story
- read this Reuters story
- read this Variety story

Related links:
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Rumor mill: Sony's new pay-TV service to be priced at around $80 per month