Rising content costs and fewer customers are forcing Sony to eliminate its live TV service.
PlayStation Vue will shut down on January 30, after four years of existence. In a blog post, Sony blamed the “highly competitive pay TV industry, with expensive content and network deals,” and said it would rather focus on its core gaming business.
The live TV service was available as an internet-connected app for a number of devices, including Roku (ROKU), Amazon (AMZN) Fire TV, Apple (AAPL) TV and Sony’s own PlayStation consoles. The cheapest package for a few dozen channels and a DVR began at $49.99 per month.
Sony launched Vue in 2015 along with a wave of other cord-cutter bundles offering live tv service as customers searched for cheaper alternatives to cable or satellite. For example, Dish Network’s Sling, Hulu with live TV, Google’s YouTube TV and AT&T’s formerly named DirecTV Now (now known as AT&T TV Now) all began within two years of each other.
But Sony’s service never caught on. Research firm eMarketer most recently estimated that Vue had 800,000 subscribers. The most popular service with live TV is Sling, with 2.4 million subscribers.
Skinny bundles have faced pressure as programming licensing deals continue to soar and companies pass along the prices to customers. AT&T (T), which owns CNN parent company WarnerMedia, recently announced a price hike for AT&T (T) Now. The service has struggled, too, losing 195,000 subscribers in the third quarter of this year. In total, the service has lost nearly 500,000 subscribers since the beginning of 2019.
More people are still using old-fashioned cable and satellite services rather than what the new streaming competitors are offering. EMarketer estimates that the number of US households with pay TV this year is 86.5 million, while those with a cord-cutter package total only 9.1 million.