Monday, 17 November 2014

100m reasons why Sony could succeed in owning the world’s living rooms

I am the one and Sony. In many ways OTT is a technology that has been successful in spite of its best efforts. Competing services offer limited and exclusive bouquets of content, different STBs may or may not allow you to stream your DRM-protected content around your house, and all these services are buried in user interfaces that look and function like they’ve been designed by one-armed gibbons, and not very bright ones at that. Can PlayStation Vue really change that?

In a word: perhaps. Which might sound a tad qualified, but is positively glowing compared to many of their rivals. Certainly it has there important factors in its favour: existing numbers, content and experience.

For starters, the numbers that Sony can command in the living room space are impressive. The Vue service, which is rolling out slowly across the US initially, can eventually expand to reach 80m Playstation 3s and somewhere in the region of 14m PS4s worldwide (liable to be 20m or thereabouts by the time the service gets beyond beta).

So, let's call that an installed base of 100m devices. In the meantime, it's gaming-oriented PlayStation Network has 110m users in 63 countries worldwide, so it also has demonstrated experience in scaling up for this sort of thing in its favour

Plus, of course, it owns some interesting properties on the content front. In fact, when the whole concept of OTT first appeared on industry radars a handful of years ago, Sony was one of the  companies that appeared at the top of everyone's list of corporations that could really leverage them there synergies.

It's taken the company a long time to fulfil that promise, but it seems to have learned from the mistakes of those that have gone before. Licensing deals have been struck with Discovery Communications, Fox, NBCUniversal, Scripps Network Interactive and Viacom, while it will also offer some live linear programming from CBS and affiliates among the 75 or so channels available. Three days’ worth of programming appears on demand in the EPG, while Sony is also making much of the service's advanced recommendation and smart search facilities.

Interestingly for its long-term health, the online TV service will also become available on iPad fairly rapidly and later will appear on more Sony and non-Sony devices.

So, why might Sony succeed where the might of others — Google, Apple, Amazon et al — does not necessarily guarantee success? Because it’s already the incumbent, basically. 100m Vue-capable consoles are already linked to TV screens worldwide — the majority of them in living rooms as befits seventh and eighth generation gaming machines rather than languishing in bedrooms. No reprogramming, no changing settings, no faffing and fiddling about with cables: 100m machines hooked up and ready to go.

Price it right and the beleaguered corporation could have something to smile about again. And seeing as how we’re using a pic of the Big Bang Theory to illustrate all this: Bazinga!

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