6 Things To Think About Before Paying $50-$70/Month For PlayStation Vue

psvueguideAfter months of limited testing without a price tag, Sony’s PlayStation Vue live TV streaming service launched today in only a few markets with packages ranging from $50/month to $70/month. Since I live in Philadelphia, one of the launch cities, I was able to get my hands on Vue to determine how it stacks up against basic cable and Dish’s recently debuted Sling TV service.

1. VALUE

psvue
Pro:
Even the lowest tier of service offers a wide variety of popular channels, including Animal Planet, Bravo, CartoonNetwork, CNBC, CNN, Comedy Central, Discovery, DIY, E!, Food Network, Fox Business, Fox News, FX, FXX, HGTV, HLN, Investigation Discovery, MSNBC, MTV, Nickelodeon, Syfy, TBS, TNT, TLC, Travel, USA, and VH1. In all, the least-expensive offering offers you more than 50 channels for $50/month. That’s effectively the same per-channel cost as Sling’s base package.

Con:
Upping to the middle $60/month tier of service only adds four channels in spite of the additional $10 monthly cost, meaning you get fewer channels per dollar. The most expensive tier tacks on more than 20 additional channels, giving you the best value of the three tiers, but at a cost that might be approaching the cable bill you hope to ditch.

2. NETWORK TV

Pro:
Unlike Sling, which does not include access to any over-the-air network feeds, PlayStation Vue currently includes local CBS, FOX, and NBC channels.

Con:
Right now, neither ABC nor CW are included, meaning you’d still need to use an antenna to get the full local network lineup. Additionally, it’s possible that Vue might not be able to include local network affiliate programming as it expands into new markets where the affiliates may not be owned and operated by the big networks.

3. PORTABILITY

Pro:
While Vue is currently restricted to streaming over the PlayStation Network, anyone who owns a PS4 need not clutter up their home with a cable box or even a dongle or stick. No need to run new wires or wait for an install tech.

Con:
Unlike Sling, which works on mobile devices as well as in your home (some pay-TV providers also allow for live-TV viewing on wireless devices), Vue will not travel with you. That will likely change as the service evolves, but for now you’re stuck watching the stream on whatever screen is attached to your PS4.

4. RECORDING & DVR FUNCTIONALITY

Pro:
Vue allows you to record shows and store them in the cloud for 28 days. This functionality is not available on Sling, which only allows for limited rewind and on-demand capabilities on a few channels. Also, when you store a show in the DVR, it looks like you will be able to watch the entire program, even if you started watching it late (we haven’t been able to confirm this works for every show, but haven’t come across a recording that didn’t let you rewind).

Con:
The DVR functionality is not intuitive. Rather than “record” a show, you press a button to add a show to “My Shows,” which not only begins storing the current show. And once you add a title to My Shows, Vue will record every episode of that show going forward for 28 days.

Also, while you can record shows and rewind/forward through them, skipping through commercials or jumping to a part you want to see is not good. Currently, forwarding through recorded video only jumps ahead 10 seconds — a process that takes about 7-8 seconds for each jump.

5. SPORTS PROGRAMMING

Pro:
The base “Access” package for Vue includes Fox Sports 1 and 2, along with NBC Sports. The $60/month “Core” tier adds the Big Ten Network, the Golf Channel, and (at least here in Philadelphia) the Comcast Sports Network. The “Elite” $70/month tier adds a trio of Fox College Sports channels to the mix.

Con:
No ESPN, which is included in the base package for Sling.

6. PREMIUM CHANNELS

Con:
There don’t appear to be any pros in this category. Vue currently has no premium networks included in any of its packages. Consumers will soon have access to HBO Now (with Showtime and others reportedly set to follow), though that service will not be available on PlayStation in the immediate future.

BOTTOM LINE

People who may want to consider PS Vue:

• Current basic cable TV customers looking to get a service that comes close to replicating the pay-TV experience but without having to deal with a cable company.

• People without cable who want access to live TV without contractual commitment.

People who may want to think twice before signing up for Vue:

• ESPN addicts, and anyone wanting access to all local networks without an antenna.

• Anyone looking to get live TV on a mobile device.

• Cable customers who have pay-TV subscriptions primarily for access to premium networks.