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Sony, Viacom strike early deal for Internet TV service

The preliminary agreement, reported by The Wall Street Journal, would put Viacom cable channels on an Internet-connected TV offering from Sony, which is racing against other tech giants to unveil such a product.

A Sony remote with a TV in the background.
Sarah Tew/CNET

Sony has sealed a preliminary agreement with media giant Viacom for its cable channels on an Internet-connected television service, The Wall Street Journal reported, citing an unnamed person familiar with the matter.

A Viacom spokesman declined to comment to CNET, while a representative for Sony didn't immediately respond. Viacom is the owner of such channels as Nickelodeon, MTV, Comedy Central, and other cable networks.

Sony was previously reported as a contender in the race among the world's tech giants to develop a robust over-the-top television option. Intel has been working on a TV service aimed for release later this year, while Apple and Google are also said to be pursuing a similar offering.

Sony's service is designed to stream traditional cable channels and on-demand content, the Journal reported. It would put Sony in direct competition with both satellite and cable TV providers, as well as the tech companies that are branching out into the television market.

A key hurdle for the technology companies working on these devices has been securing attractive content from networks. Television distributors like cable and satellite companies pay content creators high fees to carry their programs, and they're wary of that content spreading to new competitors when they pay such high prices for it. Some distributors set terms in their deals with programmers that crimp the proliferation of online licensing.