Savvy streamers may remember an idyllic time a few years ago when you could watch Chappelle’s Show and Avatar: The Last Airbender on Netflix. But then Netflix let its deal with Viacom expire, robbing the service of content from Comedy Central, Nickelodeon, MTV, VH1, BET and other popular networks. Now, PlayStation Vue has done the same thing, leaving the popular cable replacement service bereft of at least half-a-dozen excellent channels and dozens of wonderful shows. With Viacom programming gone, is PS Vue still worth picking up — or keeping?
As always, the answer is “maybe.” First off, no streaming service is right for every potential viewer. PlayStation Vue was not perfect, even before Viacom made its untimely exit. It’s expensive, it’s not available in every area, and you can’t watch it on computers. PS Vue has never been a slam dunk for cord-cutters, so it’s not as though the marketplace has lost something irreplaceable.
On the other hand, there’s no question that losing Viacom channels represents a huge blow to PS Vue, particularly for a service that charges so much money. (The cheapest tiers of PS Vue hover around $30 to $40 per month, depending on your location.) The service will be adding BBC America, NBA TV and VICE in order to compensate, but the new offerings don’t quite match the departing ones in terms of either quality or quantity.
PS Vue’s value now depends, as it always has, on what you watch. If you really want Cartoon Network, FX, TBS, USA, the Food Network, CNN, Fox News, the Disney Channel, ESPN and so forth, they’re not going anywhere, and it’s still arguably cheaper to get a PS Vue subscription instead of a cable package.
On the other hand, PS Vue is not the only game in town; Sling TV offers many of the same channels for lower prices — its Orange package starts at $20 a month — and Sling TV still has selections from Viacom available. The overall user experience on Sling TV isn’t as good as PS Vue, but in the land of streaming, content is king. If you want to watch MTV or Nickelodeon, Sling TV will indeed let you do it, and for less money.
The loss of Viacom channels doesn’t change my earlier analysis that PS Vue is the strongest cable replacement service overall, but that soon may change with AT&T’s pending introduction of DirecTV Now. As always, which service is best for you depends largely on what you want to watch.