As cable rates rise, networks and cable companies are getting into what amount to blackout wars. Like AMC and Dish, Cablevision and the Tribune Co., and, well, crap, name it: Every market has been experiencing channel blackouts, annoying customers and causing problems.
Now Sony is coming to the channels with an offer. Namely, screw over the networks and use them to just stream to customers directly via a new service. Don’t forget, Intel is also plotting to screw cable companies. Oh, 2013 is going to be fun.
Very little is known about Sony’s backroom deals. What we do know is that it’s a fairly serious one, coming from a company heavily invested in video streaming, unlike relative newbies like Intel. Although right now buying just the channels you want are by the boards.
Few specifics are known about the proposed service, but it would be a package of linear channels akin to what pay-TV distributors traditionally provide, only delivered via broadband connection. In contrast to the cable operators who are bound by a geographic footprint, a virtual MSO can conceivably offer TV service to any subscriber nationwide.
This is attention-getting for reasons well beyond just maybe being able to dump your cable for good. Sony has a fairly large install base of customers for the PlayStation 3, and it’s the worst kept secret in the gaming industry that the PlayStation 4 will be arriving late next year… right around the time Sony is expected to announce this massive streaming deal.
It’s particularly tempting for channels because Sony already has plenty of streaming infrastructure. They’ve been fighting Microsoft to have the most streaming content, and Microsoft has been getting cozy with the cable companies. Hey, there’s just something about an enormous, crumbling monopoly that appeals to Microsoft, what can they say.
Who knows what will come with it, but channels are starting to realize they may have more options than cable providers. How the cable providers will react is anyone’s guess, but we’re guessing this won’t be an easy transition.