When PlayStation Vue, Sony’s TV-over-the-Internet streaming service, launched earlier this year, there was a conspicuous hole in its lineup of channels: All of the Disney-owned networks were missing. Subscribers couldn’t watch the latest episode of ABC's “Scandal” or put ESPN's “SportsCenter” on in the background, because Disney and Sony hadn’t reached a deal to carry Disney-owned content. Today, the two behemoths reached that deal.
Among the channels soon to be available are ESPN (and its related networks), ABC Family (set to rename itself “Freeform” in January) and Disney Channel (and its related networks like DisneyXD). Subscribers in markets with ABC-owned affiliates will automatically get those live feeds, though people living in markets where ABC doesn’t own its local affiliates will have to opt in to allow their feeds to be streamed through Vue.
“PlayStation Vue provides a unique way to engage with our content and an opportunity to reach a segment of viewers who want a different kind of television experience. The addition of our content to the PlayStation Vue platform will make the offering more compelling as consumers navigate their video options,” said Justin Connolly, exec vp of affiliate sales & marketing, Disney and ESPN Media Networks, in a statement.
Vue packages cost anywhere from $50 to $70 a month depending on how many channels you’re looking for.
A generous reading of the timing of this particular deal is that it’s quite a happy accident for the Mouse House, which is releasing its fourth-quarter earnings Thursday afternoon. A more cynical view is that Disney is attempting to change the conversation surrounding its core TV businesses. The company’s previous earnings call this summer set off a fire sale of media company stocks when chairman and CEO Bob Iger revealed ESPN had lost subscribers, stoking fears of revenue loss related to cord-cutting.
More updates to come.