Late yesterday, Sony (the company that brought you the Walkman and a robot dog) announced that it's partnering up with Sony Pictures Television (the company that brings you Community and Justified) to bring Powers—the comic-book adaptation that was percolating at FX a few years ago—exclusively to the PlayStation Network. Ladies and gentlemen, this is the future of television in a world without cable. And possibly a world with so many different subscription-based services and required viewing devices that we'll all still be broke.
First the details, from The Wall Street Journal: Powers is based on the comic from Brian Michael Bendis about a detective who investigates crimes among superheroes. It's got elements of police procedurals, noir crime dramas, and supernatural shows, and sounds pretty nifty overall, even if the superperson genre is already overbloated. We've had our eye on Powers for a long time, and the project made it all the way to the pilot phase of development back in 2011 and got us all excited. But a rewrite and a reshoot couldn't drum up enough interest from FX, and it was quietly killed despite educated guesses from the masses believing that it would do quite well.
Sony will produce 10 or so episodes for Powers' first season, which will supposedly be equal in quality to premium-cable networks and streamable only to PlayStations (Playstation 3? PlayStation 4? We're not sure) via the PlayStation Network. Sony has not yet said whether users will need a subscription to the premium PlayStation Plus, or whether it will be part of the cloud-based TV programming coming to PlayStations in the next year or so.
Okay, now that we've got all that out of the way, the question is whether this news is good or bad. The TV industry as a whole has been headed away from cable dependency with the rise of online services like Netflix and Hulu, and that's been revelatory. No longer does cable seem like such a necessity (unless you're a sports fanatic or you love the local news) thanks to on-demand Monk whenever you want! Companies are drooling over the idea of becoming their own multimedia monsters with original television programing the choice du jour, and I'm hearing more and more people say that they're dropping cable and its astronomical monthly bill in favor of loading up on Hulu, Amazon Prime, and Netflix while also "borrowing" HBO GO.
But Powers exclusively on PlayStations means you need a PlayStation in order to watch it, and PlayStations currently cost about $400. What's more, does anyone think that Powers will actually be handed out for free to PlayStation owners? I'm guessing that at best, it will be available to all users in its initial phases, but that Sony will eventually require people to pony up for PlayStation Plus, which runs about $50 a year (though you can also buy it in three-month chunks).
In the name of providing context, consider Damages: I loved that show, but when it made the move from FX to DirecTV, there was no way I was switching my cable service to DirecTV just because it had one show. And lord knows I don't need any extra gadgets in my already crowded house.
Xbox is doing something similar with a Halo series it has in development, but since that project was announced in May 2013, there's been no additional news and there's no guarantee it will ever see the light of day. Sony, however, is committed to Powers, a show that should resonate with the PlayStation user base but that also has the potential to draw a non-gamer crowd. Will anyone buy a PlayStation just to see it? Hopefully Sony will offer the series to buy/rent through other avenues.
Maybe I'm way off here, seeing as how I got my business diploma from a box of Fiddle Faddle, but I'm not into the idea of every company trying to start their own cable channel. What do you think of Powers heading to PlayStation? Do you want to see it? Are you willing to pay to see it?