July 1 Update: This article was updated per PlayStation Vue's $5 price hikes.
PlayStation — it's not just for gaming anymore. In addition to being a solid Blu-Ray player when the occasion calls, you can also use your console to play music or rent a few of your favorite movies. But did you know you can also stream Live TV? Thanks to Sony's PlayStation Vue service, you can watch Better Call Saul, Scandal or Penny Dreadful and still get your regional news and sports. The following guide will help you navigate your console's newest feature with relative ease. Just save us a spot on the couch.
What is PlayStation Vue?
Vue offers several key features. For instance, My Shows allows viewers to save their favorite programs and store them in the cloud for up to 28 days. Best of all, you'll never have to sacrifice recording several shows or movies, because they're airing at the same time.
In an attempt to make content discovery easier, you have Explore, which utilizes adaptive filters to search by genre, length and rating. Or if you want your favorite shows and movies front and center, the Favorite Channel places those shows at the top of your guide queue. The Timeline feature keeps track of your viewing habits, creating a personalized list of recommendation for you on the home screen.
How much does PlayStation Vue cost?
Sony offers couch potatoes four tiers of plans with which to satiate their need for quality binge watching. The service announced the pricing listed below on July 1, in a blog post stating that the prices of each tier will rise by $5.
- The Access plan starts at $49.99 per month and has 48 popular channels including ABC, CBS, FX, SyFy and Cartoon Network along with ESPN, ESPN2 and Disney Channel.
- The Core plan costs $54.99 per month and has 66 channels and expands the ESPN offerings to ESPNU and ESPNews. There's also NFL Network, NBC Golf, and the Yankee-centric YES, which should sit well with sports fans.
- Elite plans start at $64.99 per month. This is for hardcore TV buffs, giving viewers 89 channels, including specialty channels such as Machinima, NatGeo, Pop, Logo, MGM and Boomerang.
- The $84.99 Ultra package, for those who don't want to give up much when cutting the cord, packs in more than 90 channels, including Showtime and HBO.
- HBO is a $15 per month add-on, while Showtime and Epix Hits are available as add-ons for $10.99 and $2.99 per month, respectively, or bundled together for $13.99.
- Cinemax and Fox Soccer Plus are available for $15.00 and $12.99, respectively, per month.
Your specific channel package may differ, as Sony notes that live-broadcast feeds may not be available for "consumers in some zip codes." In lieu of a live feed of those ABC, CBS, FOX, and/or NBC affiliates, subscribers will get an On Demand channel of that channel's "top programming," which does not include live sports.
Sling TV also offers live TV, but at a more palatable $25 month. For that amount, you'll gain access to a base 29 channels dubbed the Orange package, including AMC, ESPN and CNN. DirecTV NOW starts with a $50 per month Live a Little package with more than 60 channels, including MTV, Comedy Central, and TNT.
Hulu With Live TV starts at $45 per month for more than 50 channels, and includes Hulu's original programming. YouTube TV starts at $50 per month, and includes an excellent cloud-based DVR and more than 50 channels.
Where is PlayStation Vue available?
Vue is available in all 50 states.
Does Vue have any local channels? What about premium?
Sony states that the service features many local stations, including local sports and weather channels. However, depending on your location, you might might miss out on some of your favorite stations. Sling TV has added Local Now by the Weather Channel to its base offerings that provide local news, sports, traffic updates in addition to the weather.
Vue offers several premium channels for a separate upcharge for PlayStation Plus subscribers. For instance, Showtime ($8.99), Epix Hits ($2.99), Machinima ($1.99) and Fox Soccer Plus ($12.99) are all options. The service also offers a $11.49 premium pack that consists of Showtime and Epix Hits. Non-members can tack on an extra $2 on to those prices.
Will I still have to watch commercials?
Similar to Sling TV, you'll have to sit through commercials while watching the Vue, because you're watching live television. You will, however, have the ability to fast forward if you DVRed the program. The Vue is beholden to any and all blackout rules that traditional channels are subject to.
What kind of bandwidth will I need?
To go the best Vue experience, you'll require internet bandwidth of 10Mbps or higher for a single stream. An additional 5Mbps will be necessary for each stream. Compare that to Sling TV, which only requires 3Mbps to stream non-HD content on mobile devices and 5Mpbs for a single HD stream. The number jumps to 25Mbps when you start streaming Sling TV to more than one device.
What devices are supported?
You can use Vue on Amazon Fire, Android, the Apple TV, Chromecast, the PlayStation 3 and PS4 and iOS devices (the iPhone and iPad). It's missing the Nintendo Switch (which Hulu With Live TV is on), Xbox consoles (which support YouTube TV and Hulu). YouTube TV is also on smart TVs from LG and Samsung, and Sling TV also supports select Samsung Smart TVs.
Can I watch Vue outside of my home?
On Feb. 27, PS Vue got a lot better for mobile users. Now, when you're away from home, you'll be able to keep tabs on your hometown's local sports games. Also, you'll be able to watch the local broadcast networks for the city you're in, rather than your home channels.
Still, select channels are unavailable on mobile devices, marked as Mobile Restricted, so you won't get everything everywhere. The PS Vue app grants access to 40 pre-selected live channels for viewing on the go. You'll also have access to shows captured using Catch Up as well as On Demand programs. You'll need an active Vue account with a set home location (determined by entering your zip code) to watch the service on mobile devices.
Certain channels, such as Bravo, Chiller Oxygen, E, MSNBC, SyFy and USA, aren't available on mobile devices. These shows or channels will feature a Mobile Restricted badge when you attempt to access them in the mobile app.
Can I set up multiple Vue accounts?
Sony has a more-the-merrier approach, supporting up to five profiles on a single Vue account. Similar to Netflix, every account will feature its recommendations, settings and Favorite Channels. But there aren't any child-friendly profile options.
Can I run multiple streams?
One Vue account can support one PS4 and PS3 streaming simultaneously. Strangely enough, the same can't be said if you have two of the same PlayStation system in one household. One the mobile front, you can support up to five simultaneous streams.
At one point, PS Vue limited its number of concurrent streams depending on how you registered for the service, with those signing up via mobile devices getting only three streams, but those users now also get 5 streams. Most competitors limit you to 2 (DirecTV NOW, Hulu With Live TV) or 3 (YouTube TV) concurrent streams, while Sling gives you 1 stream with its Orange package, 3 streams with its Blue package (both $25 per month), and 4 with its $40 per month Orange + Blue package.
Are there parental controls?
Vue doesn't currently offer parental controls, but Sony is referring viewers to its Explore feature as a way to keep things rated G or PG for the younger members of the household.
You can also check out ratings in the program details, but that can get a bit tedious after a while. Sling TV was kind enough to include parental controls in an easy-to-access menu across all of its iterations.
What about PS Vue's DVR?
PS Vue My Shows list allows you to save programming to your personal list for a maximum of 28 days after they air. Unfortunately, PS Vue notes that "Due to streaming rights, however, select channels and programs cannot be recorded to the DVR." Hulu With Live TV and YouTube TV both offer less-limited DVR options, with content stored for 90 days on the latter. DirecTV now is about to roll out its DVR, which is currently in Beta. Sling TV makes you pay $5 extra for its DVR.
How is Vue different from Sling TV and other alternatives?
PlayStation Vue's starting price is higher than Sling's, but it does offer many more channels at that opening rate.
Hulu With Live TV and YouTube TV both offer less-limited DVR options than PS Vue, but PS Vue allows more simultaneous streams than any competitor.