In December, we reported that Sony would soon offer a 75-channel streaming TV service called PlayStation Vue. Now Sony released new details about Vue containing both good and not-so-good news. The good news is that Vue will offer more channels than previously announced. The not-so-good news is that the price is considerably more than the already-available SLING TV and even many cable and satellite plans.
Now that we have the full picture, how does Vue fit in to the current state of cord cutting?
A Better Vue?
Sony will offer three different Vue streaming plans. The basic Access plan provides 55 channels for $49.99 per month. The mid-level Core package adds seven additional channels, including IFC, the Sundance Channel, and TCM, for $59.99 per month. The top-level plan, named Elite, increases the channel count to 88 for a price of $69.99 per month.
Vue might not be right for hardcore sports fans. The ABC family of channels isn’t available on Vue, and meaning that none of the ESPN channels or Disney channels is present. For many potential subscribers, those absences could be immediate deal-breakers. Cost is a likely culprit: ESPN is the most expensive basic cable channel for providers.
But Vue could be the right choice for many others, like gamers who already own PlayStation 3 and PlayStation 4 consoles and fast Internet connections to support their gaming hobby. This younger demographic is valuable to advertisers, which could help Sony lure even more channels to Vue, and maybe even lower per-channel costs in the process.
How do Other Streaming Services Stack Up?
Compared to Vue’s three tiers of programming, SLING TV starts with a small 21-channel package for $20 and offers five different upgrade packages featuring sports, movies, lifestyle, news, and children’s’ channels. Add every package and you’ll end up with 53 channels for $45 per month, making the full SLING TV service comparable to Vue’s Access plan. But even the basic SLING package includes two ESPN channels, making it the likely choice for sports-loving cord-cutters.
SLING’s modular approach also makes sense for people who only want certain kinds of programming. They can add movies without adding kids’ programming, or vice versa. It’s closer to the a la carte model that many consumers seem to want, but it’s still not quite there. However, if you’re after the most channels and are willing to pay more for them, Vue is the clear winner. For the time being at least, no other streaming service offers more of the channels currently available on cable or satellite.
Rumors suggest that Apple will launch its own streaming service in the summer or fall, and that it will probably offer 25 channels for $30-40. However, there aren’t any details yet, so it’s hard to make a solid comparison. With that said, it’s probably not going to be the best choice unless you enjoy Apple devices like the iPad, iPhone, or Apple TV.
Vue’s Edge on Cable
If it isn’t any cheaper than cable, how will Vue attract subscribers? One common source of frustration among cord cutters is the fact that many cable and satellite TV plans require long-term contracts and early termination fees to opt out. Vue doesn’t—nor does SLING TV, for that matter—so even though Vue isn’t any cheaper than many cable plans, some customers might find that convenience and flexibility a deciding factor.
Compared to cable, streaming customers have to pay the extra cost of Internet access to receive TV programming. But let’s be honest: everyone’s already paying for that anyway, so it’s not a big deal. In terms of speeds, Sony recommends 3-5 Mbps for a single streaming connection. Multiple streams, for families watching on more than one device at the same time, should look for a plan offering at least 25 Mbps. SLING TV offers no speed recommendations aside from saying that if Hulu and Netflix work well with your current plan, so will SLING.
No matter what streaming service interests you, all cord cutters should think about how well their current Internet plans would support that plan. If you don’t think your current plan is good enough, find a better one now so that when your streaming service of choice is available, you’re ready for it.Or view all providers
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