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Kaz Hirai on Why Sony's Pay TV Bid Can Succeed Where Intel and Others Stumbled

Hirai says the 25 million PlayStation 3 consoles in U.S. homes mean Sony reaches a demographic that may not yet be getting pay TV.

Asa Mathat

Sony’s secret weapon to crack into the tight-knit pay-TV market? The 25 million PlayStation 3 devices already in U.S. homes.

“That’s a compelling number and it reaches a demographic that may not sign up for other services,” Sony CEO Kaz Hirai said in a roundtable with reporters on Tuesday. “We do bring a unique demographic.”

Hirai said that the goal isn’t necessarily to compete with cable and satellite, though the company certainly will be where it comes to live TV. Sony, he said, is aiming to unify live television with other video experiences.

“We always talked about it as an industry, but we’ve never been able to bring that together,” Hirai said. TiVo, Roku and others might beg to differ on that point.

Hirai said he is aware that others have tried to take on the pay-TV market only to decide that having a good idea or good technology isn’t enough.

“Intel was in this space as well,” Hirai said. “I’m not exactly sure what drove their decision.”

He didn’t offer details of the service, but reiterated the company hopes to launch later this year.

“We are not trying to compete with the cable operators,” he said. “We just want to try to bring that service a little more seamlessly.”

Hirai’s comments follow Sony’s keynote earlier on Tuesday in which the company detailed several efforts designed to bring the “Wow” back to Sony. During the keynote, Sony announced the pay TV plans, as well as:

  • A new streaming service bringing older PlayStation games to phones, tablets and TVs.
  • PlayStation 4 has sold 4.2 million units through Dec. 28, ahead of the three million Xbox One consoles Microsoft said it had sold at the end of 2013.

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