On Monday at the 2015 E3 gaming expo, Sony announced big changes coming to Vue, its live TV streaming service. The platform now includes new regions, and most interestingly, an à la carte channel option launching in July 2015. PlayStation Vue will officially expand beyond its initial launch cities of New York, Chicago and Philadelphia, into two new west coast locations: San Francisco and Los Angeles. To help drive PlayStation owners to the service, Sony will offer discounts to members of its PlayStation Plus subscription service.
And in July, PlayStation Vue will launch a unique à la carte programming model nationwide, allowing members to subscribe to individual channels, including Showtime and Fox Soccer Plus, without purchasing a multi-channel bundle.
“We will begin offering à la carte channels nationwide, and will be the first paid TV service to allow users to subscribe to individual channels without the purchase of a multi-channel bundle.”
Currently, Vue, which launched in March 2015, offers bundles of channels starting at $49.99. However, with this new offering, it allow users to choose only the channels they wish to select. Known as the “skinny bundle,” the multi-channel bundle model is also offered by Dish’s SlingTV and Verizon Fios where customers purchase a base package of channels for a flat fee and then choose extra bundle packs at additional cost. However, this would be the very first Pay-TV provider offering à la carte channels.
At launch, these will include Showtime’s stand-alone subscription service, Fox Soccer Plus, and “an exclusive” channel from Machinima. PlayStation Vue also offers local programming from the major networks, something that sets it apart from Sling TV. Apple reportedly wants to have similar live channels for its own internet TV service.
Vue’s à la carte model is expected to draw in cord cutters who aren’t interested in purchasing a traditional pay TV package. Capitalizing on their core gaming community, Sony expects the à la carte service will expand quickly.
The real question is whether consumers will be caught up in what Behavioral Economists call the Paradox of Choice: with so many different options, will they be trapped by the paralysis of analysis? Sony may have to keep the set of channels available for individual selection relatively small to encourage their customers to make a choice quickly. And the whole industry will be watching to see whether bundles end up being more popular than true, à la carte selections.