ESPN, ABC, Disney channels head to Sony's Playstation Vue cable alternative

Depending on your outlook, Sony’s PlayStation Vue service has either been hindered or helped by the lack of ESPN. The popular sports network is the most expensive piece of standard cable packages, so its exclusion from PlayStation Vue presumably allowed Sony to deliver a cheaper service.

We’ll see if that theory holds true now that Sony has agreed to bring ESPN, ABC, and other Disney-owned channels to PlayStation Vue. The deal covers 18 channels, including ABC, ABC Family, Disney Channel, Disney Junior, Disney XD, Fusion, ESPN, ESPN2, ESPNNews, and a slew of other sports- and college-specific channels .

What we don’t know—because neither Sony nor Disney will say right now—is whether these new additions will cost subscribers more money. Sony currently charges $50 per month for its basic channel bundle, which includes roughly 50 channels. A $60-per-month package adds some regional sports networks, and a $70-per-month Elite bundle includes some more niche channels, such as the Cooking Channel and Sprout. It’s unclear in which packages Disney’s various channels will end up, or whether the base price of Vue will rise.

Sony and Disney also haven’t given a timeframe for when the channels will arrive; but when they do, they’ll support the full range of PlayStation Vue features. In addition to live channel feeds, subscribers will get an “extensive library” of on-demand programming, and they'll be able to watch up to three days of past programming without having to set up a DVR.

None of this will make a difference if you’re not in one of the seven U.S. markets where PlayStation Vue service is available, as many local network affiliates are likely holding up the service from being more widely available. But Disney notes that affiliates will be able to opt into the service if they so desire.

Why this matters: Although PlayStation Vue is not necessarily cheaper than cable, its no-contract pricing, lack of hidden fees, easy cancellation, and lack of a loathsome cable box could make it more appealing, at least for people who own a PlayStation 3 or PlayStation 4 game console. If Sony can manage to keep prices reasonable, the arrival of ESPN and other Disney channels could sway more people to give up traditional cable TV.


Jared Newman

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