PlayStation Vue becomes first to get live HBO feed
HBO will be added to PlayStation Vue next month, becoming the first live TV streaming service to get live feeds of the premium channel. Cinemax will also come to PS Vue as a standalone channel offering.
The announcement was made this week by Dwayne Benefield, vice president, head of PlayStation Vue, in a blog post.
HBO and Cinemax will be offered at $15 each. PS Vue subscribers who add HBO will also be able to access HBO Now on all supported devices at no extra charge.
The major upgrade for PlayStation Vue subscribers comes just as HBO premieres its new drama, Westworld. A remake of the 1973 science fiction thriller is set in a Old West-themed resort where tourists live out their fantasies with the help of androids.
Writer-producer Jonathan Nolan and his wife teamed up on the project with J.J. Abrams.
The addition of premium channels is a big win for PlayStation.
It comes in the wake of questions by tech pundits about whether PlayStation 4 Pro will be worth buying this fall. (The new console debuts Nov. 10 and is already on sale for pre-order on Amazon for $399.99.)
As Matthew Dessem noted in Slate’s Culture Blog earlier this month, 4K TV owners will be able to tap the new power of PS4 Pro to stream 4K video from Netflix, and likely others like Amazon and YouTube. PS4 Pro won’t play 4K Blu-ray discs, which has left a lot of folks a bit puzzled.
Whether that’s a real deal breaker for consumers remains to be seen. There are so few people who actually own 4K televisions that buying a PS4 Pro might actually nudge them into the market.
October is already expected to be a big month for Sony
PlayStation VR is expected to hit the market on Oct. 13. With roughly 40 million PS4 units already in the market, the VR promises to be one of the must-buy items for Christmas. And plenty of people will be buying the PS4 Pro and VR units to completely upgrade their home gaming hardware.
That puts Sony in a good position to capture more potential subscribers to PlayStation Vue.
Buyers of the PS4 Pro will likely already be using the console to stream 4K content from Netflix, so making it their all-in-one device to replace cable should not be a difficult shift. Benefield also promised to have some “more news to share soon”, which could add to excitement around Sony products in the run-up to Christmas.
PlayStation Vue gets HBO: What does this all mean in the greater mosaic of cord cutting?
With half a year of cord cutting under my belt, I’m fairly certain more people will be joining the tribe of ex-cable subscribers in 2017. Will be a revolution faster than a lightning bolt? Hardly. But it sure seems like a lot of smart people – I’m talking about tech reporters and magazine writers – keep wondering when some kind of cable industry apocalypse will come.
I think I have an answer: Never. There are still massive numbers of people who will never drop cable because they are apt to never change.
The migration from cable is driven by consumers sick of paying too much for their home entertainment. Customers have also grown weary of the unclear and ever-growing fees structure utilized by major cable companies as a way to drive revenue.
Cord cutting is the closest option to building a la carte TV.
Cord cutting gives customers more control of how much or little they spend on television.
Sick of paying $5.99 per month for CBS All Access? Maybe buying an antenna and over-the-air DVR like a Tablo 2 is a more worthwhile line item of your household budget. Either way, you have more control and flexibility than the contract that comes with a traditional cable bundle.
Options like these coming at a time where streaming devices – whether it’s an Amazon Fire TV or PlayStation 4 – are becoming the new set top boxes for many. This is happening despite whatever the FCC does to move the ball forward with their proposal to allow tens of millions of pay TV subscribers to ditch set-top boxes (and the rental fee that come with them).
HBO and Cinemax executives are smart to move into the live TV streaming arena. Online piracy is a problem for both organizations. How or when the industry will clamp down in it is anybody’s guess.
The number of PlayStation Vue subscribers is very low compared to cable. PS Vue at last count had over 100,000 subscribers, according to Bloomberg.
HBO and Cinemax executives are wise to not depend on traditional cable as they have in the past.
If cable companies like Comcast and Charter dismiss the growing number of customers ditching the cable TV arm of their service, content providers like HBO will pay for it in the long run.
Technology is already way ahead of many content providers, and customers have signaled that they won’t wait around for them to catch up.