Sony announced today that it will shutter its struggling virtual pay TV platform, PlayStation Vue, on January 30, roughly five years after it launched.
“Unfortunately, the highly competitive Pay TV industry, with expensive content and network deals, has been slower to change than we expected. Because of this, we have decided to remain focused on our core gaming business,” blogged John Kodera, deputy president of Sony Interactive Entertainment.
Launching in March 2015 alongside Dish Networks’ Sling TV, Sony struggled to gain traction in the low-margin business of live-streamed skinny programming bundles. The issue became more challenging when AT&T, Hulu, YouTube and a number of other virtual MVPD competitors began to emerge in 2016.
Sony never revealed a subscriber number, but widely published estimates suggests the service never got higher than 500,000 users. Like rival vMVPDs, meanwhile, it struggled to hold its price point amid fast-rising program licensing costs—it’s most recent cost bump over the summer put the Vue base tier at $50 a month.
The exit of Vue marks a maturation point for the vMVPD market, which has seen Sling TV maintain its market leadership and its growth. Hulu with Live TV and YouTube TV also appear to have momentum, while AT&T Now has declined to around 1.1 million users after nearly reaching 2 million a year ago.
“We are very proud of what PlayStation Vue was able to accomplish,” wrote Kodera, who stressed that the PlayStation 4 console is still a viable option to use OTT apps. “We had ambitious goals for how our service could change how people watch TV, showcasing PlayStation’s ability to innovate in a brand-new category within the Pay TV industry. We want to thank all of our customers, some of whom have been with us since PlayStation Vue’s launch in 2015.”
The closure of Vue marks Sony's second major retrenchment from an OTT platform this year, with the conglomerate divesting its interest in Crackle back in March.