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It looks like Sony could be primed to held lead the charge into the future of television as the publisher announces a deal with Viacom to provide streaming television programming through various devices (like the PlayStation 4) by the end of the year or sometime in early 2014.
I've been saying for years that the future of television is a la carte, whereby various companies offer single channels or packages through streaming devices. We're already starting to see that now with services like HBO Go and the like, but the system sill has quite a bit of fine-tuning to undergo. For starters, as is with the HBO Go app, most folks don't want their streaming options necessarily tied to a cable package. Once these apps are available at a reasonable price on the device of our choosing, however, then we'll be cooking with fire.
The reason Netflix Streaming, Hulu Plus and DVRs are so popular these days are because they allow the consumer to watch what they want, when they want to watch it. Entire audiences are willing to sit out on the new season of their favorite show because they know they'll be able to catch up on it next year when it hits Netflix's Streaming app. The solution for television providers is simple: Provide a similar service with current content and charge for it.
And it looks like that's exactly what Viacom will be trying through Sony's upcoming home video game console. And, with any luck, hopefully we'll see more of these types of options popping up in the coming years. According to the Wall Street Journal, Sony “has reached a preliminary deal with Viacom Inc. to carry the media giant's channels, such as MTV, Comedy Central and Nickelodeon, on its planned pay-TV service, people familiar with the matter said.”
This comes as an interesting sort of counter move compared to what the Xbox One will be doing, namely turning Microsoft's new console into a cable box. Of course, there's nothing stopping the Xbox One from providing similar services of its own, either.
I, for one, am all for this. I dropped my cable service a few years back because it was no longer providing the content I wanted, how I wanted it. I work random nights, meaning that I could never let myself get too into a television series because there was a good chance I'd have to miss a lot of the episodes. However, would I be willing to pay that exact same amount of money for services like the one announced between Viacom and Sony? Absolutely. I wouldn't even mind commercials making their usual appearance so long as I could watch the show I want, when I want to watch them.
Of course, this is just one television provider we're talking about, so we shouldn't just assume the media revolution is upon us. If things go well for both Sony and Viacom, however, that would certainly provide more incentive for additional companies to jump on the bandwagon. Who knows? In a couple of years, we may finally have an ideal system set up where the viewer gets what they want, streaming providers are happy, and television companies are making enough money to stay afloat. That sounds like a win-win-win scenario to me.