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?
PlayStation Vue is Sony's streaming media service, designed to compete with the likes of Sling TV, Netflix, Hulu and Amazon Prime Video, and help you cut the cable cord. Primarily accessed via the PlayStation 3 or 4 and several iOS devices (iPod Touch 4 and iPad Mini), the television service can stream movies, sports and live TV sans cable or satellite subscription.
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 three tiers of plans with which to satiate their need for quality binge watching.
- The Access plan starts at $39.99 per month and has more than 60 popular channels including ABC, CBS, FX, SyFy and Cartoon Network along with ESPN, ESPN2 and Disney Channel.
- The Core plan costs $44.99 per month and has more than 75 HD channels and expands the ESPN offerings to ESPNU and ESPNews. There's also Fox Sports, NBC Golf, beIN Sports and the Yankee-centric YES, which should sit well with sports fans.
- Elite plans start at $54.99 per month. This is for hardcore TV buffs, giving viewers more than 100 channels, including specialty channels such as Chiller, NatGeo, Pop, Logo, Centric and Boomerang.
- Showtime and Epix Hits are available as add-ons for $8.99 and $2.99 respectively or bundled together for $11.49.
- Machinima and Fox Soccer Plus are available for $1.99 and $12.99.
Vue's Core package includes more than 75 HD channels, including some sports networks.However, these prices only apply to major markets like New York, Philadelphia and San Francisco where live local stations (CBS, ABC, NBC and Fox) are available. If you reside outside of these areas, you'll get those stations' On Demand channels as a live channel substitute, which means no local news or sports. Also CBS fans will have to wait a little longer since Vue currently doesn't offer CBS On Demand. But if you're a stickler for local news and weather, you can always invest in an antenna to fill in the gap.
People that live outside a major market can partake of the cheaper "Slim" plans:
- The Access Slim plan starts at $29.99 per month and offers over 55 channels.
- The Core Slm plan costs $34.99 per month and offers over 70 channesl including national and sports networks.
- The Elite Slim plan offers over 100 channels including stations from the Core Slim plan with more movie and entertainment channels for $44.99 per month.
Sling TV, Vue's closest competitor, also offers live TV, but at a more palatable $20 month. For that amount, you'll gain access to a base 26 channels dubbed the Best of Live TV package, including TBS, A&E and Local Now by the Weather Channel, which provides local news, sports, as well as the weather. The DirectTV subsidiary has also launched the Best of Live TV-Beat Multi-Stream bundle ($20 per month) for people who want to stream to up to three compatible devices simultaneously.
Netflix's Premium package and Hulu's No Commercial plan are a much more affordable $11.99 per month each. Both services have a catalog of thousands of movies and TV shows, including original programming.
Amazon Prime Video is bundled in the $99 per year Prime subscription.
Amazon also offers a monthly subscription plan, but at $10.99, you'll save more money overall with Prime. Plus, you'll get free shipping. Similar to its competitors, Amazon shies away from giving a specific number to its collection, stating that it has thousands of movies and television shows in its catalog. Choosing any of these services, however, means you're sacrificing the live TV component.
Where is PlayStation Vue available?
After testing the service in several key cities last year, Vue recently became 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 your PlayStation 3 or 4, Amazon Fire TV, iPhone 5, Roku Streaking Stick, Roku TV any Roku Streaming Players and at least an iPod Touch 4 or an iPad Mini (1st gen and up). You can also use the service with Google Chromecast, but only in your home. PlayStation will also be launching a PlayStation Vue for Android app so you can stream your favorite shows to Android smartphones or tablets running versions of the operating system 4.4 (KitKat) or higher.
Can I watch Vue outside of my home?
The Vue Mobile 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.
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.
How is Vue different from Sling TV and other alternatives?
PlayStation Vue is most like Sling TV, as both services allow TV buffs to enjoy live television broadcasts from local stations. However instead of offering a base 20 channels with the rest locked behind multiple $5 paywalls like Sling TV, the Vue starting plan offers over 60 channels for a relatively reasonable price.
The biggest difference between Vue, Netflix, Hulu and Amazon Video is that the last three services lack the ability to stream live programming, but those services try to fill that void with their original shows and movies.