Fearlessly leading the world into an age when cable networks only appear in stories the elderly tell their wide-eyed grandchildren, Sony has revealed details on PlayStation Vue, a subscription service that will bypass cable and satellite to give PlayStation 3 and PlayStation 4 owners access to 75 live channels (to start) and plenty of video-on-demand content. Sony indicated something like this was coming at the last International Consumer Electronic Show (CES) back in January, and hinted at it again a couple of months ago when it inked a deal with Viacom to license content from 22 of the cable giant’s channels. Now, we know that the service will also include content from CBS, Discovery Communications, Fox, NBCUniversal, and Scripps Networks Interactive, as Sony stakes its claim for the future of television and dares anyone else to come at it.
PlayStation Vue will be available to the public at large in early 2015. In the meantime, select PlayStation owners will be given a beta preview starting this month. According to Sony, the service will feature “unprecedented personalization and simplicity.” It will take note of users’ viewing habits and recommend movies and shows to them in a way that is undoubtedly very different from how Netflix does that, and the past three days of popular programming will be available without the need to schedule recordings. If users want to record stuff anyway, everything will be saved to the cloud, effectively granting them unlimited storage space. As of now, pricing remains a mystery.
Before long, PlayStation Vue will have to contend with a host of new competitors. Both Verizon and Dish Network are developing similar services, and even CBS—one of Sony’s content partners for this venture—is planning to launch its own subscription service with CBS All Access. Toss in HBO’s upcoming standalone package and not-quite-TV-but-usually-good-enough offerings like Netflix, and the battle for your entertainment dollars looks like it could get pretty bloody.