Sony’s PlayStation Vue streaming TV service has just hit a bit of a roadblock in terms of its content lineup. The company says today that it is losing all Viacom-owned channels, including Comedy Central, Spike and MTV, which will be removed from the service beginning on November 11. Reading between the lines of the announcement, it seems that the cost to continue to carry these channels was an issue here, given the move being positioned as the best way for Vue to continue to offer “value” to its customers.
Channel lineups on services like Vue and its rivals are often in flux due to complicated rights agreements and disputes over pricing. For example, in April, Viacom and Dish settled a carriage dispute that additionally allowed Dish’s Sling TV streaming television service to carry Viacom’s networks, including Comedy Central, BET, Spike, MTV, Nick Jr. and others.
Meanwhile, Viacom is reportedly in negotiations with Google over its own forthcoming TV service on YouTube, according to The Wall Street Journal and Reuters. And Viacom has already publicly committed to participating in AT&T’s soon-to-launch DirecTV Now streaming service.
Viacom’s channels, however, have been losing viewers and ad dollars in recent days, worrying investors. And several smaller cable operators, including Suddenlink and Cable One, have dropped Viacom to boost their bottom line, Deadline noted this October.
But for streaming TV service providers like PlayStation Vue, the channel lineups they’re able to offer consumers will be a key selling point, along with other matters like cost and user experience.
In this case, it appears that PlayStation is more concerned with keeping its pricing down, even if that means it has to leave out a few notable cable TV networks.
Reached for comment, a spokesperson for PlayStation Vue declined to offer more information on the matter.
“While we do not comment on the specific details of our network deals, this was the right decision to make for our customers and the PlayStation business,” they told us. “As part of our ongoing evaluation of the PlayStation Vue offering, we have determined that removing the bundle of channels from Viacom is the best way for us to continue to offer the most compelling value to our customers.”
In addition to losing Viacom, PlayStation Vue’s announcement also said that it’s adding a few more stations, including BBC America and NBA TV, launching tomorrow, along with VICE and broadcast stations from CBS and Fox soon.
The company already offers ESPN, ABC and other Disney networks and has added top requested channels like NFL Network and HBO.
It has also expanded its service to new devices like Roku, Android TV, and the web on Mac and PC, to make Vue more accessible to those without Sony’s gaming platform.
On paper a lot of these services – like Vue, Sling TV, DirecTV Now, and the soon to arrive live TV service from Hulu – look similar. But consumers will ultimately choose one or the other because of pricing, lineup and other technical and aesthetic concerns. Vue has historically competed on price by offering a tiered service to address different market segments, and it beats Sling TV on the technical front by offering support for more simultaneous streams and a cloud-based DVR.
Whether or not losing Viacom will actually impact its customer base, however, remains to be seen.