As people continue cutting the cord from traditional cable television providers, it’s inevitable that more will end up checking out PlayStation Vue, Sony’s live television streaming service. While the service already has its fair share of dedicated subscribers, the new and discerning consumer may wonder how PlayStation Vue stacks up to the competition before diving in. In order to figure out if PlayStation Vue is not only worth your hard-earned money, but also the best way to watch TV in 2016, we took a look at all of its competitors.
What PlayStation Vue Is and Isn’t
Before we get into comparing PlayStation Vue to the competition, it is important to outline what exactly PlayStation Vue is. While it is easy to compare it to a service like Netflix (and we’ll do it below), it isn’t a particularly apt comparison. PlayStation Vue has a much different goal, and provides a unique service that is unlike these popular streaming apps.
PlayStation Vue is live TV that is streamed over the internet, specifically billed as an alternative to cable. There’s no muss, no fuss: no sweaty cable guys need to come to your house to set it up, and the box you need for it is likely already in your house — just download an app from the PlayStation Store, and you’re good to go. It also operates as a built-in DVR, as it will automatically record any show you want for viewing in the next 28 days. PlayStation Vue is the most feature-heavy internet TV service, and is really the best way to cut the cord without feeling like you are missing out.
Now for what PlayStation Vue isn’t. It is not an on-demand service that allows you to binge-watch an entire series in an afternoon. While PlayStation Vue does come with some nifty ways to access television shows’ back catalogs (thanks to deals with channel-specific apps), it is meant first and foremost to be a way to experience live TV.
Cable and Satellite
Cable and satellite providers are the dinosaurs of a bygone era, still somehow clinging to life. There are still plenty of good reasons to have a subscription (who doesn’t like TV?), but there are just so many downsides. The contracts you have to sign are incredibly anti-consumer, customer service is a nightmare, and plan pricing has gotten ridiculous. For example, the top package on DirecTV will cost subscribers $89.99 per month, in addition to requiring a whopping 24-month agreement (bringing the total cost just shy of $2160, not counting taxes and other fees). Don’t like your service? Well, you’re stuck with it for the next two years!
One of the biggest upsides to PlayStation Vue is that there is no contract. That means you can cancel at any time, even if we don’t really see a reason why you would want to. It is nice to have the flexibility, especially if money gets unexpectedly tight for a month.
One area where cable and satellite providers have PlayStation Vue beat is the number of channels offered. While a lot of these numbers are inflated due to carrying both east and west coast feeds, as well as SD and HD versions of the same channels, even some entry-level cable packages have more channels than PlayStation Vue does.
That said, plenty of these channels are ones that no one would ever watch. So unless you are really going to miss the Gem Shopping Network, then you might as well switch to PlayStation Vue. It has the channels that you actually are going to want to watch, and none of the headaches or fluff that comes with cable providers. Plus, PlayStation plans to add more channels that consumers want over time, so you can rest assured knowing the value of your subscription will only increase.
Hulu and Netflix
As stated above, it really doesn’t make a ton of sense to compare PlayStation Vue with services like Netflix and Hulu. They each serve their own different purposes, and do them both incredibly well. However, these services are way too popular for people to not compare them, so we’ll bite.
Hulu is an incredible service at $7.99 per month and offers up a great way to watch television shows in full. It is incredibly easy to waste an entire day watching season after season of Archer; trust us, we know from experience. That said, you won’t be able to watch the new episode of Archer the day it airs. Hulu and Netflix are both fantastic services at getting you caught up with shows, but if you want to watch live television and talk about the latest episodes with your friends the next day, PlayStation Vue is the way to go.
You also can’t watch the latest awards show or sporting event while it happens on Hulu, so forget live-tweeting the Oscars. You also lose out on the community aspect of television, where everyone is watching the same show. Sure, you can tweet out your thoughts on the Seinfeld episode you just watched, but your timeline is busy talking about the crazy outfit Lady Gaga has on at the GRAMMY Awards.
Similarly, Netflix offers pricing from $7.99 to $11.99 per month and is also a great deal. PlayStation Vue is certainly more expensive, but it’s providing a totally different service. PlayStation Vue actually does a great job of complementing a Netflix subscription and vice-versa. These are two streaming services that go great together, and isn’t necessarily something where you have to choose one or the other.
PlayStation Vue’s most direct competitor is Dish Network’s Sling TV, which is available on Xbox One, Roku, Amazon Fire TV, and other devices. It may look considerably cheaper at first glance (with pricing starting at $20 per month), but it has a ton of extra package tiers that can be added. Overall, if you want everything (including HBO) you are looking at around $75 per month.
So, while it may be cheaper if you only want to watch the 20 channels in the default listing, you’ll be missing out on the majority of the available content. You’ll also be missing out on channel-specific apps such as FX Now, as Dish Network is notorious for not agreeing to these deals. Throw in some limited functionality (not all live content can be paused or rewound), and Sling TV just isn’t as fully featured as PlayStation Vue.
Sling TV might be best if you just want a few channels, but it’s far from the ultimate service at the moment. It’s eveb missing the biggest TV channels such as ABC, NBC, CBS and Fox.
Long Story Cut Short
After looking at the competition, it seems that PlayStation Vue has more to offer than its competitors. It’s more fully featured, features important channels that most people want to watch, and requires zero contracts. It’s great that there are competitors such as Sling TV that will continue to push Sony to make their already-great service even better, but right now it’s the best way to watch live TV online.