Sony Recruits 22 Viacom Networks for Internet TV

Sony Corp. will include 22 networks from Viacom Inc., such as MTV and Nickelodeon, in the Internet-based TV service it’s planning.

The deal, the first time Viacom has made its shows available for such a service, covers live and on-demand programming, the companies said today in a statement. The package will have “major programmers” including Viacom, said Sony, which plans to divulge more details in the near future.

Entertainment companies are battling to be the first to offer a cable-like Internet subscription service to reach younger viewers who aren’t signing up for traditional pay TV. Dish Network Corp. reached an agreement with Walt Disney Co. earlier this year for the rights to carry channels like ESPN in an online package separate from its satellite business.

“We’re excited to be among the many programmers that will help power Sony’s new service and advance a new era for television,” Viacom Chief Executive Officer Philippe Dauman, said in the statement.

The partnership unites more than 75 million Internet enabled Sony devices in U.S homes with Viacom’s content, Tokyo-based Sony said. Viewers can watch shows such as “SpongeBob SquarePants” and “Teen Wolf” on TVs, game consoles and Blu-ray players.

Sony CEO Kazuo Hirai has boosted investment in content production and TV networks as he pushes his “One Sony” vision to unite products, including mobile devices and TVs, with games, music and films.

Dish, Disney

Viacom owns and operates the largest basic cable portfolio in the U.S. by audience share, said Sony citing Nielsen data. The cloud-based TV service will also stream Comedy Central, VH1 and Spike among others, as well as Viacom’s full video on demand package.

The pact follows a deal earlier this year between Charlie Ergen’s satellite-TV company Dish Network Corp and Disney in a race to be the first to offer an Internet-based competitor to cable TV.

The deal gave Dish the rights to carry the Disney Channel, ABC and ESPN online in a service known as over-the-top, or OTT, because it runs over an Internet connection.

Other major companies such as Intel Corp. and Apple Inc. have attempted to do similar deals. Intel sold its OnCue set-top box technology to Verizon, allowing it to stream video on the web.

Viacom rose 0.1 percent to $79.30 at 11:29 a.m. in New York. Sony’s American depositary receipts climbed 0.8 percent to $19.36.