PlayStation Vue is one of the primary options available for the ever-growing tribe of cord cutters who hate cable, but must have live TV. Vue began life in March of 2015 as a service primarily geared for those with PlayStation gaming consoles, but since then the service has gone through a number of changes. Channels have come and gone, pricing has shifted, and the list of features and supported streaming devices continues to grow.
To help you choose between Vue and rivals like Sling TV and DirecTV Now, we’ve created this detailed guide to Sony’s internet TV service which outlines Vue’s numerous channel packages and pricing, as well as a look at supported devices and our own thoughts on the service from the user perspective.
Pricing and channel packages
Parsing PlayStation Vue’s pricing model can be a bit confusing. As you can see from the charts below, there are multiple channel packages available. Packages include the major networks NBC, ABC, CBS and FOX, but these channels are only live in select markets, including New York, Los Angeles, Chicago, Philadelphia, Dallas, San Francisco, and Miami. FierceCable has reported that CBS has been added to as much as 50 percent of Vue’s footprint in recent months, but in many markets network channels are only available for next-day on-demand viewing. This is admittedly a bummer for those outside of major areas, but these packages are therefore $10 cheaper. You will see these packages denoted as “slim.”
Access, $40 per month/Access Slim, $30 per month
At Vue’s basic “Access/Access Slim” packages, you’ll be spending $30/$40 a month for over 45 channels, including staples like ESPN, CNN, Disney Channel, Cartoon Network, and major networks.
Core, $45 per month/Core Slim, $35 per month
“Core” ups the channel count to 60-plus for $35/$45, adding in entertainment channels like IFC and TCM, and a number of sports channels like NFL Network, NBA TV, NBC Golf, and ESPN U, and more.
Elite, $55 per month/Elite Slim, $45 per month
“Elite/Elite Slim” adds another 30-some channels for $45/$55, bringing a number of niche channels, another round of sports channels, and most importantly begins to add in channels like Epix and Machinima, which are available as add-ons at the previous ranks.
Ultra/Ultra Slim, $65 per month
Finally, the $65 “Ultra/Ultra Slim” features the same full 90 channel suite the “Elite” offers, but adds in HBO and Showtime to the mix. At this level, nearly all add-on channels are included, with just a few exceptions.
Regardless of where you live, each package features the same basic channel selection, with higher-tier subscription packages simply adding in more channels. By upping your subscription to a higher price point, you can rest easy knowing you’re not going be leaving channels behind in exchange for new ones. In this way, PlayStation Vue is more akin to DirecTV Now than Sling TV, the latter of which offers a higher subscription plan that actually dumps some channels from its lower priced sibling.
It’s also important to note that Sony has recently discontinued carrying Viacom-owned channels, meaning that channels like MTV, Spike, and Comedy Central are all unavailable. If you’re looking specifically for these channels, you’d best go elsewhere.
There’s a handful of a la carte add-ons available on PlayStation Vue, but a large number of these channels are already included in the Elite and Ultra channel packages. Further, there are some channels that are unavailable with certain channel packages, namely the Access package. We’ve noted these exceptions where applicable.
Epix Hits: $4 per month ($3 per month for PlayStation Plus subscribers); Epix hits is included in Elite Slim and Ultra Slim packages.
NFL Red Zone: $40 per season. Not available for Access Slim package subscribers
Español Pack: $5 ($4 for PS+ subscribers); includes NBC Universo, Nat Geo Mundo, CNN Espanol, FOX Deportes, and more.
HBO: $15 per month; an HBO subscription is included as part of the Ultra Slim package
Showtime: $11 per month ($9 per month for PlayStation Plus Subscribers); a Showtime subscription is included as part of the Ultra Slim Package.
Cinemax: $15 per month
Machinima: $2 per month; Machinima is included in Elite Slim and Ultra Slim packages.
Fox Soccer Plus: $15 per month ($13 per month for PlayStation Plus subscribers)
Polaris: $3 per month ($2 per month for PlayStation Plus subscribers)
Epix Hits + Showtime bundle: $14 per month ($11.50 per month for PlayStation Plus subscribers); Epix hits is included in Elite Slim and Ultra Slim packages; a Showtime subscription is included as a part of the Ultra Slim Package
Features and User Interface
Perhaps the most enticing feature about PlayStation Vue is the number of streams that can be watched at the same time. Vue users are granted a total of five simultaneous streams, which outpaces both Sling TV’s (one or three, depending on your subscription) and DirecTV now (capped at two). Vue is also the only service that allows users to create multiple profiles for different watchers. These features make Vue a great choice for larger families, as up to five different people can stream to their device of choice without interfering or barring another member of the family.
Vue’s cloud DVR feature is also an appealing bonus for those interested in recording live TV to watch later (and really, who isn’t?). Once recorded, your content will be stored for up to 28 days. Similarly, three-day replay and on-demand content are also available for a number of channels on the service.
Vue also has the distinct privilege of being the only service to allow pause, rewind, and fast-forward on all channels. Yes, all of them. Sling TV only allows such interaction on select channels, while DirecTV Now only lets you pause.
It’s important to note that the user interface for PlayStation Vue will be different depending on the device you use. The best viewing experience is on the PlayStation 4 or PlayStation 3, with an interface designed around the Dualshock controller and the PlayStation dashboard. Various other supported devices will work as you would expect them to, just maybe not as smoothly or responsively as on a PlayStation console.
The list of PlayStation Vue-supported devices has expanded significantly since it debuted, and more seem to be added regularly.
- PlayStation 4 and PlayStation 4 Pro
- PlayStation 3
- Windows PCs
- Android phones/tablets
- Android TV
- Apple TV
- Roku devices
- Amazon Fire TV devices
- Google Chromecast
PlayStation Vue is pricey when compared to the competition, and we can’t help but wonder if anyone really needs the number of channels its packages cram in. Then again, it’s the only live TV streaming service to offer a robust cloud DVR and the ability to pause, rewind, and fast-forward live programming (for now, Sling TV has a cloud DVR in beta), plus it features flexibility in terms of the number of users who can access the same account simultaneously. These are handy features many users crave from their streaming services.
For those who own a PlayStation console, and don’t mind paying a little extra, PlayStation Vue may just be your best bet for a streaming service with hefty channel packages. Otherwise, you may want to shop around a bit.
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