Sony And Viacom Reach Deal For Streaming Internet Television Service

by Matt Helgeson on Aug 15, 2013 at 03:12 PM

In a deal that could be a landmark in the transition from cable television to streaming Internet TV service, Sony and entertainment industry giant Viacom has tentatively agreed to bring live TV to a new Sony streaming service.

The New York Times says, "The agreement is believed to be the first of its kind between a major programmer and any of the technology giants that are trying to disrupt traditional modes of TV delivery. If other programmers follow suit, Sony's as-yet-unnamed service would let paying subscribers receive live cable channels the same way they use on-demand libraries like Netflix or Hulu."

Of course this deal is still tentative, but the implications are obvious. Viacom owns many of the most popular cable TV channels including MTV, Comedy Central, and Nickelodeon. The company has feuded with cable and satellite providers recently, resulting in temporary blackouts on DirectTV. Viacom controlling owner Sumner Redstone also holds a controlling interest in CBS, which is currently blacked out on Time Warner cable over contract negotiations.

It's also important for gamers, as Sony's PlayStation line of consoles and handhelds would be a likely distribution hub for its new service.

[Sources: Wall Street Journal and New York Times]

[Thanks to reader Dan Talarico for the news tip.]

Our Take:
If this is true, this could be the first chink in the armor of cable television. While "cord cutting" has become more commonplace, with many (like myself) ditching their cable for Netflix Instant, Hulu, and other online methods of TV delivery, so far the ability to watch live television has been fairly limited. While the Xbox One has touted its live TV capabilities, that will be delivered into your console through a cable box. Today, you can watch ESPN through your TV, but only if you are a subscriber to an approved cable provider. If Sony has really convinced Viacom to go around cable providers and bring their content directly to Sony's service, that's a huge step.