Sony may find online TV partner in Viacom

Comcast's TV app of On Demand listingsBIZMOLOGY — As the way we view TV continues to change, relationships between cable companies and content providers have struggled in recent years. However, a possible partnership between two media giants may be evidence that this trend is shifting as well.

The Wall Street Journal reports (subscription required) that Sony is creating an Internet TV service, and Viacom has tentatively agreed to let its cable channels (most of which are geared to younger audiences, including Comedy Central, MTV, and Nickelodeon) run on it. This agreement is significant in the relatively new world of TV streaming as it is the first of its kind between a traditional cable programmer and a streaming service from a major player.

Sony’s service, still yet to be named, would let paying subscribers receive TV content delivered over the Internet through a set-top box or other electronic device, similar to the way programming is viewed on streaming services such as Netflix or Hulu. The new service is expected to be available initially via Sony’s PlayStation gaming console and is rumored to launch early next year.

While Internet streaming services are becoming more and more popular, most households still rely on cable from one of the major five major providers as their primary method of TV consumption. Paying for Internet access but not cable TV is an increasingly appealing option, however, especially among younger audiences that are more likely to exclusively watch TV on their laptops or through devices such as a gaming console or set-top box.

Coverage in The New York Times notes that cable delivered through the Internet could give households even more choices, but first streaming services require permission from cable programmers. And that’s why the Viacom deal is considered a breakthrough. 

Amy Schein

Amy Schein is an Industry Specialist at First Research, where she covers various aspects of the media industry. She earned her BS and MA in media studies at the University of Texas at Austin. Follow Amy on Twitter.

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