Sony to launch new online TV service

sony logoIt’s already a pretty crowded market but that doesn’t seem to be stopping Sony from plunging in.

The Japanese multinational is said to be busy working on the development of a new web-based television service, putting Sony in direct competition with cable, satellite and broadband-based TV services.

It will also be taking on other technology companies who are branching out into the television market, including the likes of Intel, Google and Dish.

Apple is also expected to enter the television market this year after CEO Tim Cook said at the end of last year: “It’s an area of intense interest. I can’t say more than that.”

According to reports, Sony’s new Net-connected multichannel service could be rolled out later this year, with the company already said to have entered into discussions with at least two big companies about channel licensing.

It’s not the first time, however, that rumours have done the rounds about Sony’s intention to develop a new television service. The difference this time round though is that Sony’s negotiations are believed to be at a far more advanced stage.

Kazuo HiraiWhile Sony has so far remained schtum about any new plans, saying the company never comments on rumours or speculation, sources familiar with the ongoing negotiations say the service will be launched in the US later in 2013.

With Sony having been struggling a bit in recent years, it’s not clear as yet how the firm will finance such a move.

A television service does sound like a good step though for Sony, which already has fingers in the hardware, software and content creation pies.

And, if it does manage to pull off its new ambitions, bosses will be hoping the new internet TV services leads to a turnaround in fortunes for Sony.

At the end of 2012, rating agency Fitch downgraded Sony’s stock to “junk status,” saying a “meaningful recovery will be slow, given the company’s loss of technology leadership in key products, high competition, weak economic conditions in developed markets and the strong yen”.

Sony did, however, get a new chief executive in April. Kazuo Hirai took over the reins after Sir Howard Stringer stood down, although Sir Howard is still chairman of the board of directors.

Hirai has done well, so far, in continuing to build the success of the PlayStation brand and, indeed, the console could play a key role in any new internet television service.sony television service

The launch of a Sony online television service should, in theory, also help the company to sell more of its connected hardware, including not only the new-generation PlayStation, but its Bravia range of television sets and Blu-ray players – the idea being that customers are enticed by the promise of new content to try out.

Hirai is no doubt facing challenges. Sony’s television arm is continuing to flounder and the company also needs to make sure it stays relevant to gamers, with the industry under threat from smartphone and tablet gaming.

Sony will be showing off some of its new smartphone developments at this year’s much-anticipated Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas and will be hoping the conference marks the start of a more successful 2013.