Sony officially launched Wednesday its PlayStation Vue (PS Vue) live streaming over-the-top (OTT) pay-TV service aimed at cord-cutters, cord-nevers and video gamers in three initial roll out markets including: New York, Chicago and Philadelphia.

The service, which will initially be available as a downloadable app on PlayStation 3 and PlayStation 4 video game consoles, will begin with three service tiers, none of which will require a contract, and a cloud-based program guide and DVR service. Qualifying new users in each market will have a seven-day free trial period to try out the offering.

Sony said each tier will be comprised of a mix of 85 key cable and broadcast channels per market.

More on the service and its options for those looking to get away from or add to the traditional pay-TV services after the break:

The official service launch follows a beta trail that Sony offered to thousands of select PlayStation users in recent months.

The service levels include the following:

“Access” tier ($49.99 per month) billed as an entry level channel lineup with: CBS, CBS Plus, Cozi TV, Exitos, FOX, MyNetwork, NBC, and Telemundo, broadcast channels and the following cable networks: Animal Planet, BET, Bravo, Cartoon/Adult Swim, CBS, CMT, CNBC, CNN, Comedy Central, Destination America, Discovery Channel, Discovery Family, DIY, E!, Esquire, Food Network, Fox Business, Fox News Networks, FOX Sports 1, FOX Sports 2, FX, FXX, HGTV, HLN, Investigation Discovery, MSNBC, MTV, MTV2, Nat Geo, NBC Sports Network, Nick Jr., Nickelodeon, Nicktoons, OWN, Oxygen, Science, Spike, Syfy, TBS, TLC, TNT, TruTV, Travel Channel, TV Land, USA Network, VH1. AMC will be available in April.

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“Core” tier ($59.99 per month) featuring all of the Access channels plus a collection of local sports channels including: BTN, Golf Channel, TCM and (in New York only) YES Network; (in Philadelphia only) Comcast SportsNet Philadelphia; (in Chicago only) Comcast SportsNet Chicago.

“Elite” tier ($69.99 per month) combining everything in the first two tiers along with two dozen additional channels including: American Heroes, BET Gospel, Boomerang, Centric, Chiller, Cloo, CMT Pure Country, CNBC World, Cooking Channel, Discovery Fit & Health, FOX College Sports Atlantic, FOX College Sports Central, FOX College Sports Pacific, FXM, LOGO, MTV Hits, MTV Jams, mtvU, Nat Geo Wild, PALLADIA, Sprout, TeenNick, Universal, Velocity, VH1 Classic, VH1 Soul.

Sony is presenting everything to the viewer through an easy- to use and- browse, cloud-based graphical user interface (GUI). The GUI will provide program listings and simplify content searches.

Unlike the rival SlingTV service operated by Dish, PS Vue will provide a selection of local broadcast channels from CBS, Fox and NBC networks. ABC/ESPN/Disney, which are part of the SlingTV service, will not be part of the PS Vue package, at least to start.

In addition to live TV channels, the service will also include a large selection of video-on-demand content, a “lookback” service for prior episodes of some TV series, and the cloud DVR that will allow users to record up to 500 individual programs, each of which will be available for up to 28 days.

The service will be accessible via a downloadable app for the PlayStation 3 and PlayStation 4 consoles, which Sony said can be found in approximately 35 million homes. To start, service will be limited to three consoles per home and only one PS4 at a time.

Plans are to extend the service to iPads and other streaming devices in the near future, the company said.

For content distribution online, the PS Vue is based on adaptive bit rate technology, which adjusts the bit rate and resolution up and down according to available bandwidth. A broadband connection of at least 10Mbps is recommend for the best experience.

PlayStation console owners will be able to supplement their PS Vue content selection with programming from other streaming apps downloadable to their systems, including: Netflix, Hulu and the PlayStation movie store.

By Greg Tarr

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