Why I Think Sony Made a Bad Decision in Shutting Down PS Vue

  • Vue suffered from a bad branding decision. But making a shut-down decision on PS Vue without trying to fix the obviously misguided and confusing branding decision, to me, you’re not working off high-fidelity information, then. To me, that alone means that Vue deserved at least one pivot & re-try. I remember seeing the PS Vue name myself, while shopping for skinny bundles, and the PS tie-in is confusing and awkward — at BEST. At worst, it was a clear signal, “It’s just an add-on to the PS. If you’re not a gamer, this isn’t for you. If you have an Xbox, this isn’t for you.” Really? In the D2C era? It’s an obvious artificial constraint.
  • I’m biased toward great product. Vue didn’t have everything an advanced TV UX should have, but it was good, reliable product with a roadmap. I know some of the team, so I’m biased, but I know them because they were always open to innovative ideas and working big projects.
  • Sony’s revenue is $18B annually. Bleeding a couple hundred million a year (do you think it was more?) would be worth it, if the shift to streaming TV turns out to be the next tectonic shift that many think it will be. The last tectonic shift that Sony missed with an awkward brand decision? Mobile. (Sony Ericsson.)
  • Short term-ism is always wrong in disruptive markets. They barely launched in 2015, had two good years getting to nearly 750k in subs as I understand it in 2018. Then they pull off the gas and languish in 2019 just as things get interesting? Then, decide it’s not working, after essentially two focused years of operation. (Even if you give them the benefit of three or four years, it’s still not nearly the right time horizon.) So, bad decision: Either the one to launch, or the one to shut down. But both can’t be a good idea if they happen within a few years of each other. Streaming or not, great products like Netflix or Comcast X1 weren’t built in a day.
  • Plenty of room for niches over the long term. Rich Greenfield makes this point quite a bit and I totally agree with it, which is that as a consumer cuts the cord, they basically find themselves swimming in their “entertainment budget” which is true for me, at least. So over time, I see ARPU today of $100/mo going to streaming, I just think that supports a bigger, broader OTT ecosystem than just 5 or 6 apps. in 2050 I’ll bet Streaming TV easily supports 30 pretty strong TV apps generating at least hundreds of millions of dollars in revenue. Vue TV couldn’t have been one of them? I find that hard to believe.

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