LAST UPDATED AUGUST 4, 2017 AT 6:43 P.M.
Everything you need to know to compare Sling TV vs PlayStation Vue
If your cable bill just shot up, you might be eyeballing Sling TV or PlayStation Vue as an alternative for everyday TV consumption.
Congrats, because they are the best two choices currently on the market for live streaming TV. That could change in 2017. Hulu and YouTube are both expected to debut their own live streaming TV service later this year. But you probably need to drop your pricey cable bill right now like a three-packs-a-day smoking habit.
You know you need to quit, but it’s kind of hard. Don’t worry.
Our guide to live streaming TV comparing PlayStation Vue vs Sling TV will give you the latest breakdown of channel lineups, features and equipment that you will need to cut the cord.
How does Sling TV and PlayStation Vue work?
Sling TV and PlayStation Vue have many of the same channels that you have enjoyed as a subscriber of a big cable company.
Traditional cable companies like Comcast and even satellite TV companies like DirecTV have been middlemen for viewers, a distributor of premium channels to your home. The Internet has changed all that.
Instead of the cable cord that’s in your home, you are streaming a live feed of these same channels over the Internet. You’ll just be paying a lot less for them.
So if you have an internet connection, you can make an easy transition. You’re halfway there!
PlayStation Vue vs Sling TV free trial offers
Before you cancel your cable subscription, you can try out Sling TV or PlayStation Vue for free by simply going to their website and signing up. There’s a good chance you may already have the necessary hardware to stream either service.
Sling TV has a number of offers at the moment. You can do a free 7-day trial with no obligation. If you pay in advance for up to two or three months of service, you can get a free Roku Streaming Stick, a discounted Roku Premiere+ or a discounted AirTV Player + Adapter Bundle.
To try out PlayStation Vue for free, just head over to their website, click free trial and follow the steps to create a new account. It’s as easy as signing up for Netflix.
If you like what you’re seeing, then you can read up on how to negotiate a better price for your Internet subscription with some battle-tested methods that we’ve discovered. Read how Congress discovers cable companies maintain secret rates that are never advertised.
How do I watch Sling TV or PlayStation Vue?
There are official apps for both Sling TV and PlayStation Vue that work on pretty much any device that you can imagine. Many Smart TVs now come with a built-in Sling TV app, so that’s worth checking if you own a fairly new set. Here’s a quick list of compatible devices that will stream both PlayStation Vue and Sling TV unless otherwise specified.
Roku streaming devices: any make or model can stream Sling TV or PlayStation Vue.
Android/Android TV: Amazon Fire TV, NVIDIA SHIELD TV, Xiaomi’s Mi Box, Sony Android TV, AirTV Player, Android phones and tablets.
Apple: Apple TV, Apple desktops, Apple laptops, Apple iOS (i.e. iPads, etc.)
Windows 10 computers and devices: Windows 10 PCs and Windows tablets
OTA recievers: Channel Master has a nifty OTA DVR that streams Sling TV, but it’s not compatible for PS Vue.
Game consoles: With XBox One, One S or XBox 360, you can use Sling TV. PlayStation 3 and PlayStation 4 you can use PlayStation Vue.
There’s been a lot of interest lately in streaming live TV via a computer. PlayStation Vue has a very good interface for streaming on a PC, and Sling TV does as well.
AirTV Player to bring Sling TV and OTA channels into single menu
There’s also a new 4K streaming device called AirTV Player that integrates Sling TV and local over-the-air (OTA) channels into a single menu.
The AirTV Player is made by a subsidiary of Dish, the owners of Sling TV. AirTV Player operates on Android TV software, and has apps for Netflix and YouTube. This streaming box is moving toward a trend that you will hear a lot more about this year. A streaming device that combines local broadcast stations that transmit high definition channels for free alongside premium channels once exclusive to cable and satellite subscriptions is proving to be a powerful tonic for those seeking relief from high priced cable bills. The AirTV Player is being sold through its website. I haven’t tried out the AirTV Player at this point.
Sling TV recently added Cloud DVR support to AirTV Player. But you will also need to buy an additional piece of equipment, the AirTV Adapter, for the OTA features to work. You can buy both pieces as a package deal for about $130.
Can you record shows on Sling TV? How about on PlayStation Vue?
Sling TV has a Cloud DVR service that costs an additional $5 per month. If you own a Roku, Amazon Fire TV, Android device, and Android TV streaming player, you can use Sling TV’s Cloud DVR. It currently allows for 50 hours of storage and simultaneous recording. Users can also pause, rewind and fast forward recorded content. The Cloud DVR currently does not work with all channels on Sling TV.
PlayStation Vue has a Cloud-DVR feature that allows users to save hundreds of movies and shows. The capacity is at about 500 shows. There are no limitations on what channels that you can records shows from. The Cloud-DVR essentially is like bookmarking a favorite web page. Viewers just need to select the add button when they find a favorite show and the whole season is saved to the “My Shows” section of the Vue menu.
Advantages Sling TV and PS Vue have over traditional cable
By replacing your cable subscription with a live TV streaming service like Sling TV or PlayStation Vue, you have no contract, and no hidden fees that magically appear in your monthly bill.
If you don’t like the service, just cancel it whenever and move on to something else. Here’s the best thing about using Sling TV and PS Vue besides saving some major cash.
Being able to leave behind the vast junkyard of unwanted low-quality channels makes the overall experience of watching TV more satisfying.
When I peruse a live streaming TV service, I don’t have to navigate through a minefield of home shopping channels to get to a premium channel. There are no pockets of blacked out channels that I didn’t subscribe to, where another channel I get is tucked away.
Sling TV is owned by Dish Network. Sony owns and operates PlayStation Vue. Both companies are targeting a younger audience, the coveted 18-to-35 age demographic. Much to the surprise of big cable companies, a whole lot of folks in their customer base are pissed off about their rates.
Customers are figuring out that buying a streaming media player and a cable modem is a lot better than throwing away hundreds of dollars a year by renting equipment from the cable company every year. They are moving on to something better.
Sling TV vs PlayStation Vue channel lineups? Which is better?
Figuring out which live streaming service has the better channel subscriptions comes down to choice. If you’re a big sports fan, you’re probably better off with PlayStation Vue. If you can’t live without a single episode of The First 48 on A&E or the History Channel, you’ll probably want Sling TV. Live Streaming TV has become so popular that even premiere channels like HBO, Showtime and Cinemax are migrating from cable. They’re offering standalone live or on-demand streaming. It’s great for cord cutters and average cable customers. Channels like HBO used to be exclusively part of a top tier cable packages. Those days are gone.
No matter which service you choose, you will also want to look into getting an antenna for your TV or possibly building one. You will be amazed with the over-the-air HD quality that you can get these days. And it’s free for life. Check out our guide How to Choose the Best TV Antenna & DVR to get some ideas about what might work best for you based on where you live in the U.S.
Channel lineup: PlayStation Vue vs Sling TV
Sling TV currently has three bundles to choose from, PlayStation Vue has four. Here’s a breakdown of their channel offerings from the bottom up.
Budget minded fare
On Sling TV, the 28+ channel package is called Sling Orange and costs $20 per month. In my part of the country, the channel package actually totaled 29 networks. There are some great channels offered in this lineup, including AMC, A&E, Viceland and the History Channel. Those last three channels are not on PlayStation Vue. If Quentin Tarantino ever cuts the cord, he might like a Sling TV subscription so he can hook up with the grindhouse-style El Rey Network.
Having channels like newsy (also available free online) feels like a wasted channel slot. That’s not a criticism of newsy. Anyone with a Roku or Amazon Fire TV can watch newsy for free on its app.
Maker and its offshoot Polaris+, which focuses on gaming, pop culture and comics-related content, only adds a flea market quality to the channel lineup. Not good.
Overall, the Orange package on Sling TV offers a fine alternative to cable with a few unique options that could make PS Vue subscribers envy.
On PlayStation Vue, the lowest tier is called Access, which has 45+ channels for $39.99 per month in most cities. PS Vue has a more robust lineup that could make anyone forget that cable ever existed. There’s a little something for everyone. ESPN is one of four sports channels. Discovery channel, Bravo, Cartoon Network, two FX networks and three Disney channels cover a lot of your cable TV bases. The National Geographic Channel being offered in PS Vue’s lowest tier is particularly impressive. That’s generally a premium channel in many cable packages.
A step up
For another $5, the Sling Blue channel package gives you a total for 44+ channels. Bravo, National Geographic Channel, BET and a few more sports offerings like Fox Sports 1 and Fox Sports 2 are added. Movie buffs might appreciate IFC.
For another $5 on PlayStation Vue, you’ll graduate to the Core package with 70+ channels. That gives you four ESPN channels instead of two, the Big Ten Network, NBCSN, SEC Network, Fox Sports Network, and the Golf channel. Sundance TV is also added, a channel that’s probably among the more underrated offerings on cable or otherwise. If you’re like me, and want to see everything Michael Kenneth Williams stars in, then you’ll want to check out Sundance’s original series Hap and Leonard.
For $40, Sling’s best deal is offering you 65+ channels, combining their Orange and Blue channel tiers. This is where the value-added question comes into play. Dish TV is simply mashing their two tiers together without offering any other extra channels for being a top-tier subscriber.
If you want more sports channels like Pac-12, that’s another $10. If you want Sundance TV, or Epix Hits, it’s another $5 for their “Hollywood Extra” channel bundle. There are 8 total add-ons that are woven into some of the PlayStation Vue packages above.
So if you channels that were spread across three add-ons, you’re much better off subscribing to PlayStation Vue.
The Elite package on PlayStation Vue gives you about 90 channels for $55 per month. You will get more sports channels, Epix Hits, MGM HD, the Sony Movie Channel, National Geographic Wild. Unfortunately, four BET channels and four MTV channels are now gone because of a contract dispute with Viacom. The loss of MTV Live is no small thing. The channel is loaded with live concerts and festivals from around the globe, and has LATER…with Jools Holland, Austin City Limits and Live from Daryl’s House. MTV is on Sling TV as part of an add-on, but notably the more desirable MTV Live is not.
PlayStation Vue added an extra tier called the Ultra Slim, which adds HBO and Showtime to the 100+ channel package for $74.99 per month. Subscribers of any tier of PlayStation Vue can add HBO or Cinemax for $15 each. HBO subscribers can also add HBO Now apps to all their supported devices at no extra charge.
Does Sling TV and PlayStation Vue have on-demand?
Sling TV does have on-demand content, but it is fairly limited. PlayStation has on-demand features, but only on Amazon Fire TV devices. You cannot tap into the PlayStation Vue’s on-demand catalog using a Roku.
Can you authenticate apps with Sling TV and PlayStation Vue?
As a Sling TV subscriber, you can use your subscription as authentication for a growing number of apps and web sites. But there are some limitations compared to PlayStation Vue. Here’s a list of apps you can authenticate using Sling TV.
- Bravo (Airplay, Amazon Fire, Android, Apple TV, iOS, Roku, Xbox One)
- CNBC (Airplay, Android, Apple TV, iOS)
- E! Now (Airplay, Amazon Fire, Android Mobile and Tablet, iOS, Roku)
- FOX NOW (Amazon TV, Android TV, iOS and XBOX 360 only)
- FOX Sports GO (Amazon Fire, Android, Android TV, Apple TV, Chromecast, iOS, Kindle, Roku, Windows 10, Xbox One)
- FXNOW (Amazon Fire Stick, Amazon TV, Android, Android TV, iOS and XBOX 360 only)
- MSNBC Now (Airplay, iOS)
- NBC (Airplay, Apple TV, Chromecast, iOS, Roku, Xbox One)
- NBC Universo (Airplay, Amazon Fire, Android)
- NFL Network (Android, Apple TV, iOS, Android, PlayStation, Roku, Web, Windows, Xbox One)
- Oxygen (Airplay, Amazon Fire, Android, iOS)
- SyFY (Airplay, Amazon Fire, Android, Apple TV, iOS, Android, Roku, Xbox One)
- USANow (Airplay, Amazon Fire, Android Mobile and Tablet, Apple TV, iOS, Roku, Xbox One)
For web sites, you can use Sling TV for:
PlayStation Vue app authentication for “TV Everywhere” capability
PlayStation Vue has a wide variety of on-demand programming, and also allows you to authenticate more than 64 apps. Below is a list of apps that can be authenticated through your PlayStation Vue account, according to Sony. Remember, the channel app only works if the channel is part of your subscription. There is also an unofficial app login list compiled by a half dozen hard working Reddit users.
WATCH Disney Channel
WATCH Disney Jr.
WATCH Disney XD
Esquire TV Now
Fox (FOX NOW)
FOX Business News
FOX News Channel
FOX Sports GO
NBC Sports Live Extra
NCAA March Madness
WATCH One World Sports
Turner Classic Movies
Can I watch Sling TV on more than one TV or other device? How does it compare to PlayStation Vue?
Sling TV Orange customers are restricted to one TV or device at a time. So if Mom wants to watch The Real Housewives of Beverly Hills on Bravo, and Dad is on the road hoping to check out Fox Sports… Well, Dad is shit out of luck.
Sling Blue customers can get up to three streams at once on separate devices. So you could have “The Walking Dead” playing on your TV, a History Channel show going on your smartphone and BET streaming on your computer. If you subscribe to Sling Orange and Sling Blue, you get up to four streams at once. But again, you’re somewhat limited. You’ll have one stream for Sling Orange channels, and three streams for Sling Blue channels.
PlayStation Vue allows simultaneous streaming on up to five devices in the household. You can even take PlayStation Vue with you. Sony recently expanded PS Vue web streaming to PC and MACs, and a multi-screen feature for PlayStation 4 owners. Channel selection for PS Vue away from your home will be somewhat limited due to licensing agreements. But that’s one of the reasons why being able to authentic apps with your PlayStation Vue account is so worthwhile.
Do I need a fast Internet connection for Sling TV or PlayStation Vue?
No. Sling TV recommends a constant speed of 25 Megabits per second (Mbps) or more for households that have multiple devices using the Internet. Sling TV also recommends 5Mbps to stream to a TV, PC or Mac, and 3.0 Mbps or more for streaming non-HD video content on tablets and phones.
Sony recommends at least 10Mbps of an Internet stream for PlayStation Vue, and 5Mbps for each additional stream.
There’s a lot more to be said about having an affordable Internet connection, especially if you are planning to sever ties with your cable provider. That’s especially true if you plan on using your current cable provider for Internet. Lowering the cost of your Internet subscription is the most important, but often overlooked, aspect to real savings. Check out Cord Cutting 2017, the definitive guide if you want a lower price from your current Internet provider. Read our guide on How to get the best deal for Internet without cable to help you search for other providers.
What are the best streaming media players for Sling TV and PlayStation Vue?
Sling TV used to work on more devices than PlayStation Vue. But Sony changed all that in 2016.
Both Sling TV and PlayStation Vue currently have apps for Apple TV, Amazon Fire TV, NVIDIA Shield TV, all Roku devices and Chromecast. Viewers can also use an XBox One and Channel Master to watch Sling TV. iOS and Android tablets and smartphones work for PS Vue and Sling TV as well.
People often believe that PlayStation Vue only works on PlayStation 4 or PlayStation 3.
Not true. PS Vue works on just about any device now. Android TV devices like a NVIDIA Shield TV and Mi Box got their own PlayStation Vue app in October 2016. The interface of PS Vue on Android TV devices is similar to what you will find on Amazon Fire TV devices.
I use an Amazon Fire TV with an Ethernet connection. It has the best interface for my needs, and you can read a review of why Amazon Fire TV is the best device for live streaming TV.
Is PlayStation Vue better than Sling TV?
Sling TV just changed the price point on some of their add-ons, or Extra packages when they are grouped together.
The new “4 Extras Deal,” bundles Kids Extra, Lifestyle Plus Extra, Comedy Plus Extra and News Extra, all for just $10 per month (previously $20 per month).
That’s a compelling deal.
PlayStation Vue announced on July 7 that it was raising its rates by $10 per month for most customers. For now, PlayStation Vue is still my preferred service for live TV over the Internet. The entry level $40 price for 45+ channels has a well-rounded lineup of programming for children and adults. If you follow our guides to lowering your Internet bill to the $35 range, you’ll be saving hundreds of dollars a year. I currently subscribe to the Elite plan and stream it to an Amazon Fire TV via Ethernet cable. Due to the price change, I may explore downgrading my service.
I have a friend who pays about $25 per month for a minimal Internet subscription, and remains a very happy Sling TV subscriber. He watches basketball on TBS on his living room TV. The TV in his living room is hooked up to a desktop computer. He enjoys having A&E and a couple other channels. So as I said earlier, it boils down to personal preference and needs. The best way to find out what you like is to try it. Check out the Sling TV web site for their free 7-day trial, or the PlayStation Vue site for a free 5-day trial as well.
If you don’t have a streaming device, or are considering an upgrade, you may want to consider Sling TV’s offer to get a free Roku Express, a discounted Roku Premiere+ or AirTV Player + Adapter bundle.
DirecTV Now also offers a similar deal with either a free 7-day trial, or a free Roku Premiere when you prepay for two months of service. If you want to know the many differences between DirecTV Now vs PlayStation, please read my definitive guide about channel lineups, special offers and features.
So if you did cut the cord and opt for live streaming over streaming, let our readers know how it worked out for you in the comments section below.
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
Lee S. says
I have tried the 3 major streaming services, Sling, DirectvNow and PlayStation Vue. We are going with PlayStation Vue for it’s better streaming connection (i.e. little if any buffering) and the fact it has local channels. The downside of Vue is no History Channel and no NHL Network (we’re hockey fans). We tried DirectvNow for 1 month and the buffering was infuriating — literally would buffer several times in a 5 minute span. The channel mix with the $60/month DirectvNow package was good and it has local channels, but ultimately the buffering was a deal breaker. Sling loses out for lack of local channels. Keep in mind, we aren’t tied at the hip to local channel content, but it means getting the major OTA networks like ABC, CBS, NBC, and Fox — which is what we want.
Robert Pierce says
I think it’s only fair to tell your big NFL fans. Where you can stream NFL REDZONE. As far as I can tell you can only stream NFL REDZONE on sling TV. It’s going cost 35 bucks a month.
The Cord Cutter says
Yeah, good point. But kind of pricey.
Chris B. says
From what I have read, you can actually add NFL Redzone to your VUE package for a one time fee of $39.99 for the season. That’s cheaper than $35 per month with Sling.
In my area, Comcast has a sports package add-on that is $7.95 per month, and Fios has a sports package add-on that is $14.95 per month, and both include NFL Redzone. You can call and have them added at the beginning of the season, and removed at the end. Direct TV requires you to carry the entire Sunday Ticket Package, and that costs something like $3 million per year (from what I remember, not exact price).
Assuming that you carry Redzone from September through the end of December, you’re looking at paying for at least 4 months. That comes out to $140 for Sling, $31.80 for Comcast, $59.80 for Fios, and $39.99 for view. If you’re cutting the cord, or if you already have Vue, it looks like the best choice for Redzone.
Thanks for all the information. I’m attempting to do due diligence for when my Directv contract expires in July. Will you be providing updated information , if any is avaiable before then?
The Cord Cutter says
The guides you read here are updated regularly, but you should also check out the “latest” section here on the site for newer info. Also, you may want to consider signing up for our email list to get the latest updates when they are posted.
Scott G. says
Great article and comments thank you all!
Can you PLEASE change the font of your website? I really want to read this but it’s nearly impossible
The Cord Cutter says
Props to KR for the help on the font issues. Didn’t know there was some issues on Macs/iPhones.
Must be nice to be able to save $10/mo since Vue offers the Slim packages in your area. We don’t have that option here. The Access package costs $39.99 for us. For the channel lineup offered at that rate IMO the package is overpriced.
Since I watch channels such as AHC & National Geo Wild quite often the lowest acceptable Vue package for us would be Elite which costs $55.99/mo. That package is missing A&E, History, Comedy Central, Smithsonian, Military History, Starz and several other channels that we watch often. We also currently have HBO, to add that on Vue is an extra $15/mo. So while we would save about $18/mo if we canceled the TV portion of Comcast to go with Vue we would be losing a lot of content that we watch.
I have researched each of the current OTT services and just subscribing to one of them alone doesn’t meet our needs. Subscribing to multiple services would not only be inconvenient but would cost more than we are currently paying Comcast.
So until one of these services improves in content, pricing and/or features they are not a good option for us.
The Cord Cutter says
It’s lousy that Sony has areas of the country where PS Vue is more expensive. I don’t understand why there is a higher price point in those places. My brother lives in one of those areas, and he is still looking around for a live streaming option.
If you are out to save some cash, you should re-visit your rates with the cable company every 12 months and call your cable company to cancel as outlined in my cord cutting guide. Also getting your own equipment — modem, router and cable box (HDHomeRun Prime) would be worthwhile to cut down on your bill.
I’m hopeful that more competition in the live streaming market will drive a wider channel selection and better price point for everyone.
I think you miss a key advantage of Sling. PSVue has a good>better>best>ultimate design, the path to the better broad interest channels (Elite) is ONLY through deeper sports programming (Core). With Sling’s modular extras, the $30 and $35 price points create precisely what a much larger potential market wants to pay and wants to watch due to the number of different lineups you can build at those prices.
Sony’s service feels more like how a cable company would offer service than Sling’s. If you’re coming down from a cable bill, it feels comfortable and right. If you’re coming back to live content now that packaging is more flexible, Sony feels like bloat.
The Cord Cutter says
That’s a fine point to make.
There are other arguments out there that Sling TV is more cable-like because if I want two channels that are in two separate add-ons then I’m potentially paying more and more.
But it will always going to boil down to what someone wants to pay vs the value that’s received. The dynamic of that will be a little different for everyone.
OTA, chromecast,roku 3, roku streaming stick, 2nd gen apple tv, Amazon Fire Stick with Voice, Sling TV with the $25 tier, Direct TV Now (Trial), Playstation Vue (Trial $35 tier). Sling gave us the roku stream stick for subscribing. The Direct TV trial.. I didn’t get past the pricing and the year contract.. I didn’t even turn it on after that. Playstation Vue on for $30 bucks is the best option for us. The kid channels, Espn and Espn2, all the other channels plus the cloud DVR are the winner for us. I think sling has a cleaner interface that is easiest to use and a boat load better than Playstation Vue. In fact, I still can’t get used to the Vue user guide and jumping around from channel to channel. All that said, Playstation is the winner. The Fire stick with voice makes it very easy for my family to get used to no cable. Hold down the voice button and say “launch the playstation vue app” and it shows up. Mobile is great for us. I have not been stopped on Playstation vue away from home yet. We have tmobile with binge on. All of the streaming services are on binge on and this is just the icing on the cake. I am thrilled to be done with my cable bundle.
I currently have an OTA antenna for my locals which feeds a Dish DVR (hopper) The hopper then feeds a AVR (audio visual receiver) which feeds my TV and home theater speaker array.
The Dish channel guide integrates the OTA channels with the pay Dish channels in the same “guide”–it is a nice interface (as it would be with Direct tv –AT-T etc)
By going to either Sling of Vue I lose the ability to receive my OTA channels . What tuner box would you recommend that allows input of the OTA antenna coax signals and output via HDMI to the AVR?
and is it possible to integrate that with Vue and/or Sling in a single channel guide?
The Cord Cutter says
Hi Dave, Have you checked out the Channel Master DVRs? They have models that integrates OTA channels and services like Sling TV. That might not be exactly what you’re looking for, but it may be the closest thing on that market right now.