Sony’s new $99 PlayStation TV box could be key to its TV service plans

Sony (S SNE) announced a new $99 gadget at the E3 Expo in Los Angeles Monday that could play an interesting role in the company’s plans to offer its own pay TV service.

The new PlayStation TV, which will be available in the U.S> and Europe this fall, is primarily touted as a slimmed-down game console, capable of playing videos games from the company’s upcoming Sony Now cloud gaming service as well as pair with a PlayStation 4 to play PS4 games via remote play — a feature that was first introduced with the portable PlayStation Vita.

However, Sony Computer Entertainment America President and CEO Shawn Layden also mentioned during the company’s E3 keynote that the PlayStation TV “will give you access to video and music streaming services.” Asked about further details, a Sony spokesperson sent me the following statement:

“PlayStation TV in the United States will support TV and movies via Video Unlimited and streaming music via Music Unlimited. We’ll announce additional services in the future.”

Music Unlimited is Sony’s Spotify-like music subscription service, while Video Unlimited is the name of the company’s iTunes-like transactional video rental offering. However, the company has bigger plans for TV content, and announced at CES earlier this year that it intends to launch a pay TV service that could replace cable TV for its customers in the future.

Sony’s still-unnamed TV service will offer subscribers access to live television, video on demand and cloud DVR features, and deliver it to a variety of devices. It’s a safe bet to assume that PlayStation TV will be among those devices, which would turn the device into much more than just a lightweight game console. Instead, it would compete directly with a variety of video streaming boxes including Apple TV and Amazon’s Fire TV, which also comes with a big focus on gaming.

And with a less expensive device, Sony would be able to give consumers a way to access its TV service on multiple TVs within their house without the need to connect a full-blown PlayStation to each and every one of them.