There’s a new TV streaming service hitting major cities in the United States, and it’s a huge release from Sony called PlayStation Vue. If you are both a PlayStation fan and want to cut the cable cord to lower your bills, it’s a good idea to pay attention, because Vue may be coming to your door, and it has one of the strongest content offerings around.
A Playstation Vue By Any Other Name
PlayStation Vue is indeed a Sony app, but as the name hints it isn’t coming to every Sony device. Instead, Vue will only be available on PlayStation 4 and PlayStation 3 game consoles, at least for now. This is good news for gamers and probably shows a lot about where Sony thinks the demand for this service lies waiting.
On the plus side, what makes Vue particularly exciting is its long list of impressive features. Let’s start with the TV channels if offers. Like other cable replacement options, Vue offers live streaming of traditional TV channels, so you can watch them like you watch cable, except without the built-in contracts and, depending on your package, without the high prices as well. The base Vue package, which starts at $50, offers many channels than competitors, more than 50 that include CBS, NBC, FOX, Animal Planet, Food Network, USA, AMC, IFC, and dozens of others. The upgraded package, which begins at $60, gives you a few extra sports channels, while the elite package at $70 provides a lot of extra music, lifestyle and family channels.
Notably missing from the list are ESPN, ABC, and the Disney channels — at least for now. But it’s worth noting that Sony did manage to get contracts with channels like CBS (which has its own streaming app) and NBC (which is planning its app), channels previously adverse to TV streaming with others.
Vue also includes extra features that set it apart. Specifically, there’s a built-in TV guide with a click, visual interface that’s a vast step above older TV guide menus. You also have a lot of DVR-level control over the shows you are watching. You can pause live TV whenever you want, fast forward after pausing, or rewind to watch content again. You also have the ability to record specific and store them for up to several weeks to watch later.
City by City
PlayStation Vue may offer some compelling packages, but where it’s truly limited is in location. Vue has already rolled out, but only in select U.S. cities: Chicago, New York, and Philadelphia. If you live outside these three urban areas, you are out of luck.
Why has Sony so limited the reach of Vue? This first release could be a test to see how profitable Vue will be, allowing Sony some extra time to weigh the costs of entering other cities and choose based on likely demand as the numbers of cord cutters rise. It could also be part of a staggered rollout, with the company planning to release Vue in more locations no matter what. Either way, patience is advised if you are a PlayStation fan but still waiting on Vue availability.
Calling All Slingers
The next obvious question is: How does Vue stack up against the other streamers that can compete against cable? The clearest competitor is Sling TV, which offers a number of different channels through its own app service. There are pros and cons to the comparison: Sling is available through nearly all platforms and locations and its costs are much lower at $20 per month. However, it only offers a few channels in comparison to the many provided by Vue – however, those channels do include ESPN and other networks that Vue does not offer.
Consumers interested in streaming should also remember services like CBS’s new app, which only streams CBS content but also cuts the cost down to $6 per month, or the new HBO Now service, via Apple TV, which gives you HBO content for $15, all free of cable.
The major difference is the number of channels offered by Vue (high) and the price (also high). In many ways, Vue can be considered a cable replacement rather than a way of ditching cable and its costs altogether. You may pay a similar amount for similar programs, but you aren’t locked into contracts and DVR functionality included.
Photo Credit: Jon Fingas