LAST UPDATED JULY 26, 2017 AT 1:18 P.M.
A guide to PlayStation Vue, the best live TV streaming service
PlayStation Vue has grown in popularity during the first half of 2017, but a lot has changed with its channels and pricing.
There are more sports offerings, MTV is gone and you can stream many channels over a PC or mobile device. More local channels like FOX affiliates sprinkled across the U.S. are being added, too.
Not everyone is happy about it.
But as a cable-alternative, PlayStation Vue still offers a robust channel lineup at a cheaper price. It has standalone packages for HBO, Showtime, and with sports both national and regional networks.
The entry-level plan, called Access, offers 48 live channels, including local affiliates for networks like NBC, ABC or CBS. Getting local networks will largely depend on where you live in the U.S.
What’s changed with PlayStation Vue between 2016 and 2017?
An updated review of 30 medium-sized cities shows that the three main channel packages have shrunk in size since last year. Elite has 92 channels from 100. Core went from 70 to 62, and Access is down to 48 from 55. The number of channels decreased when Sony dropped Viacom channels from its lineup. That led to the departure of MTV channels, Spike and Comedy Central. To fill the gap, Sony added BBC America and NBA TV. beIN Sports was also dropped over an apparent pricing dispute.
Channel bundles have also gone up by $10 per month in most places across the U.S. A small number of cities like Los Angeles and New York were already paying this higher rate. Click on the interactive map above to get a better idea of what rates look like in your city.
If you can negotiate for a reasonably priced broadband connection by properly leveraging your position as a faithful customer, you may want the full boat and get 100 channels that PlayStation Vue offers with its Elite plan, which costs $45 in most cities. If you want to know more about negotiating a decent price for broadband, see our guide: How to get the best deal for Internet without cable.
What is PlayStation Vue?
Sony began streaming live television over the web in March 2015 as a way to challenge much larger, traditional cable providers such as Comcast and Spectrum. Almost any streaming device like a Roku or Amazon Fire TV works with Vue. You just need to download the PlayStation Vue app. Sign up online for a 5-day free trial if you want to try it out.
Before we go any further, don’t get confused. Sony also markets a mini game console called PlayStation TV, which has nothing to do with PlayStation Vue. Sony probably should have called their service “Sony TV Live” or “Sony Live TV” instead to avoid the confusion.
PlayStation Vue has been rolling out local channels, bypassing the need to exit their service and use an antenna. Local ABC, CBS, Fox and NBC stations are being added throughout the year. Those expansions will likely continue as more companies like DirecTV Now and fuboTV ramp up their own offerings.
Sling TV and DirecTV Now are PS Vue’s two main competitors. Our definitive guide comparing Sling TV vs PlayStation Vue can fill you in on how the two platforms stack up against each other.
How much is PlayStation Vue really going to cost? Aren’t there hidden fees like with cable?
Nope. There are no hidden fees, or contracts like your traditional cable company. Taxes may apply depending on where you live. You will find popular cable channels like AMC, Bravo, HGTV, ESPN, FX and National Geographic.
If you don’t like the service, you can cancel it and go with something else. Sony has a free 5-day trial, but you will want to make sure you have the right equipment to stream PlayStation Vue first before you sign on.
|48+ channels, including live cable TV, movies and sports channels||62+ channels, including all the channels from Access with the addition of live national and regional sports networks.||92+ channels, featuring all the channels from Core with the addition of top movie and entertainment channels.||HBO and Showtime, plus all 92+ channels from Elite.|
|$39.99 per month||$44.99 per month||$54.99 per month||$74.99 per month|
Adding HBO, Showtime and Cinemax on PlayStation Vue
A lot of cord cutters get their HBO viewing with the on-demand style app HBO Now for $15 per month. If you’re a PlayStation Vue subscriber, you can get an actual live feed for HBO at the same price. You will also get to add HBO Now on all your supported devices at no extra charge.
That’s a bonus feature you won’t get on any other streaming service. HBO Now is available on PlayStation 4 and PS3. Cinemax is also being offered for $15 per month as a live channel as well.
PlayStation is offering a new top-tier subscription plan called Ultra, which includes HBO, Showtime and 100 plus channels. Those are the same channels in the Elite package. Ultra costs $74.99 per month.
What’s included in the PlayStation sports package?
NFL RedZone, MLB Strike Zone and a number of regional sports networks make up Sony’s new PlayStation Vue Sports Pack. The add-on costs an extra $10 per month. It’s only available with Core, Elite or Ultra plans.
- NFL RedZone
- MLB Strike Zone
- ESPN Bases Loaded
- ESPN Classic
- ESPN Goal Line
- Longhorn Network
- Outside TV
- NESN National
NBCUniversal regional sports networks
- CSN Chicago
- CSN Mid-Atlantic
- CSN New England
- CSN Northwest
- CSN Philadelphia
- NBC Sports Bay Area
- NBC Sports CA
Channels like NFL RedZone and others are offered only during the season. Here’s some more details about the PlayStation Vue Sports Pack.
What devices can stream PlayStation Vue?
You don’t need a PlayStation game console to get PlayStation Vue. You can use an Amazon Fire TV, an Amazon Streaming Stick, a Roku device and a Google Chromecast via the Android app. Sony announced on Oct. 27 that Android TV devices also have PlayStation Vue apps. So devices like a NVIDIA Shield TV and a Mi Box will now also work. You can stream PlayStation Vue to a PC or Mac as well when you’re not near a TV.
We recommend an Amazon Fire TV for streaming PlayStation Vue. The Fire TV has the best interface and has on-demand functions not found on the Roku and Android app.
READ: Why we recommend the Amazon Fire TV as the best option for live streaming
The Android TV app for PlayStation Vue is great. Its user interface on NVIDIA Shield TV looks practically the same as Fire TV. The remote controls for the two streamers are remarkably similar as well. You can use the circular-shaped button on either remote to peruse the Guide, Search and Explore features and delve into hundreds of shows and movies. Amazon Fire TV is the better priced device for PS Vue. The fast forward and rewind options were smoother on Shield TV during my testing.
I put Shield TV as a close second to Amazon Fire TV only because it costs twice as much. But if you’re looking for a gaming console, and are interested in voice control/smart home features of NVIDIA SPOT, then the extra money is well worth it.
Roku devices and the Android app for Chromecast lack the on-demand feature that are on Amazon Fire and Android TV devices. But the Android app performed very well with Chromecast. It also gave a slick live TV feed while watching PlayStation Vue channels on a Samsung Galaxy S5.
Best Media Streamers for PlayStation Vue
Amazon Fire TV
Ultra 4K resolution
Vue on demand
PlayStation 4 Pro
No voice remote
4K auto upscale
Android TV gaming
Amazon Fire Stick
Ultra 4K resolution
Vue on demand
NVIDIA Shield TV
Android TV gaming
4K HDR10 resolution
No Vue on-demand
Sony recommends having a 10 Mbps Internet connection (about half that will be used per stream), so if possible you may want an Internet connection slightly higher.
How do I watch PS Vue on a PlayStation?
If you’re using a PlayStation 3 or PlayStation 4 and want a more traditional remote, check out our quick guide on how to pair your TV remote with your game console. Also, the PlayStation 4 now has a multi-view option that allows users to watch up to three live shows at once.
Is there a way to “record” my favorite shows?
Sure, Sony has what they call a Cloud-DVR feature. Subscribers can save a limitless number of shows. And you can fast forward through commercials. Find a show you want on PlayStation Vue, and move up to the plus sign and press the enter key to add it to the My Shows menu. That’s it. Your shows will remain in the cloud for 28 days. If you don’t carve out time to watch it by then, let’s face it, you were never going to.
How many simultaneous streams can I have on PlayStation Vue?
The streaming limit is up to five devices at a time, but there are caveats. You can only have one game console streaming at a time (e.g. A PlayStation 3 streaming in one room and an Amazon Fire TV in another is fine.) A PlayStation 4 streaming in one room and a PlayStation 3 in another is also fine too.
The best way to search for on-demand movies & upcoming movies on PlayStation Vue
There are three search functions on the upper left hand corner. We recommend using the EXPLORE function to look over the thousands of movies available on PlayStation Vue.
This function is especially useful if you subscribe to a channel like Epix Hits, which has hundreds of movies on demand. Once you scroll up to the top of the screen and once to the right for the EXPLORE option, scroll right to select CHANNELS then scroll down to alphabetical menu to select Epix Hits. A menu of all the available movies then appears. You can also tailor the results by popularity and expiry date by using the SORT function in the upper right hand corner. On other channels like AMC, use these steps to see what’s on demand and upcoming movies that you can record and store for later viewing in the My Shows queue.
Watch Multiple Channels at Once with Multi-view
On March 7, PS Vue announced the ability to watch up to three live channels simultaneously on one screen. Multi-view is available on PlayStation 4 only for now. The announcement was made a week in advance of March Madness.
“This will be a great way to catch several live games at once from TNT, TBS, TruTV and CBS,” Dan Myyers, head of product for PS Vue, said in a blog post.
This new feature will work on all live TV channels on Vue, so you can watch a variety of programs at once.
Here’s how to use the feature. Press and hold X on any live TV show from the Guide or Live TV row of the home screen.
That will open up the selection screen for a multi-view. Select any other live programming from the Live TV stand and start watching multiple programs at once. The main screen in multi-view will carry the audio.
Press the square on the DualShock 4 to switch up the main screen on multi-view. Then highlight the smaller screen and press Square.
Is PlayStation Vue worth it?
Everybody has a different wants and needs when it comes to television. PlayStation Vue still provides a much better value than a traditional cable package that costs $150 to $200 per month. The trick with any streaming service is getting your cost of Internet down to a lower price.
Other cable alternatives like Sling TV, sports-first fuboTV and DirecTV Now are also vying for your dollar. Any most of them offer a free trial. I test streaming services throughout the year, but for now, I am sticking with PlayStation Vue for my day to day television watching.
You can read Sling TV: The Definitive Guide with Everything You Need to Know if you’re more interested in Sling TV’s channel lineup.
How do I sign up for PlayStation Vue?
Go to the PlayStation web site, and click on the button for the 5-day trial. Remember that you will need a Roku , an Amazon Fire TV or an Amazon Fire Stick for the full experience if you don’t own a game console.
Founder and Editor of The Cord Cutting Report. Before launching the site in 2016, he worked for more than two decades as a staff writer or correspondent for a number of daily newspapers, including The Boston Globe. His enthusiasm for tech began with the Atari 2600. Follow @james_kimble
Philip Parlante says
Is there some place I can go to change the guide and set 50 percent Transparency. I hear the show under the guide but it would be nice to see it
I can’t find the Walking Dead or Into the Bandlands because they aren’t available till March. How do I add it now so that I won’t forget. On my current cable DVR, I can set to record a tv series and it will record all the new ones and remember to do it next season automatically. It is also smart enough to record if it happens to move to a different time slot. How do I get my PS Vue to do the same thing. Sounds more like a software thing. This will for sure make me cut my cord.
The Cord Cutter says
If you had TWD set to record last season on your cloud DVR on PS Vue, then the new season will start recording for you automatically.
If you’re just coming to Vue, don’t worry about missing new episodes. Once you add a show to your cloud DVR, it will also pull up all on-demand content for that season as well. There are a couple of shows that I didn’t start watching/recording until a few episodes had already aired. Vue is good like that. Thanks for reading!
Annie Lobo says
I use to stream movies via NetFlix, the video quality is really good but it’s pretty expensive for me. Thus, I just went through your write up, it’s really useful.
I’m using Vue with my dsl link, which is 7Mb/s, short of what Sony recommends but it ought to be sufficient. (I have been streaming movies from Amazon for some time and streaming delays have been very rare).
What I have found the last couple days is that in the morning and late evening the streaming works perfectly, but during prime time I get some streaming pauses. I also notice that during the reliable periods Vue shows “5 bars” of signal strength, while during the problem period it fluctuates and ranges from 1 to 5 bars. I need to try to find out what those bars represent, I guess they must represent the data rate of the content coming to the video player (in my case, Fire or Fire Stick (I got both in case one works better but they seem to behave pretty similarly). I ordered a highly rated wifi booster from Amazon but the fact that the choppy performance shows up during prime time makes me think it is probably the dsl link rather than the wifi. (I can’t see any reason the wifi link would degrade during prime time.)
The Cord Cutter says
That’s some great info for readers. Thanks for sharing. As for varying strengths of your wifi, I’d recommend using an Ethernet connection to your Fire TV if possible.
Joe Nhre says
$10 extra a month for 3 or 4 local channels is a rip off. Sony needs to make that an optional add on package in those select cities.