At Sony’s second CES press conference, the company just announced an initiative to bring Internet TV to the United States. This isn’t like Hulu or Netflix; Sony is thinking much bigger.
The company is promising to become a pay-TV operator in its own right, like Time Warner or Comcast. You would pay a monthly fee to subscribe to Sony’s as-yet-unnamed push into the living room, and the fee would likely be similar to many cable packages. Unlike cable, however, Sony is building this service from the ground up, which means they could put certain policies into effect that cable companies haven’t been successful with.
One area where a service like this could really shine is with a la carte pricing for cable channels – pick a basic package, then subscribe to the three or four channels you’re most likely to watch. We could also see time limited services, with perhaps daily or weekly packages available to take advantage of holidays or vacation time.
The cloud DVR will be an important aspect of the service – while Sony isn’t first to the table with this technology, they might be able to do it the best.
Sony plans to start testing sometime later this year, with the service coming to regular computers, smartphones, tablets, and “game consoles” (likely the PS3 and PS4). No set-top box will be required. The company also mentioned that the TV service is an attempt to create “a single source of entertainment” for customers, likely in conjunction with Sony’s nascent cloud gaming platform.
So, can Sony succeed where Intel has failed? It seems likely. One of the biggest hurdles in creating a service like this is securing the necessary partnerships, licensing, and content deals with various entertainment providers, and this is one area securely within Sony’s wheelhouse.