Surprise: Free PlayStation Vue upgrades
Sony surprised PlayStation Vue subscribers with a free temporary upgrade to its top channel lineup, which includes HBO and Showtime. The company quietly rolled out access to the Ultra channel package on Wednesday.
The 90+ channel lineup includes live streams of HBO East, HBO West, Showtime East and Showtime West, along with its on-demand catalogs of movies and original programming. The upgrade will last until Nov. 25, according to a Sony representative. The free PlayStation Vue upgrades were given to subscribers of the Access, Core and Elite plans.
No formal announcement was made by Sony on the PlayStation Vue blog. The surprise upgrades came just weeks after Sony scrapped a decision to increase prices on some of its subscribers. The company decided to eliminate its entry-level “Slim” channel bundle and raise prices by $10 a month on most customers. The last phase of the $10 price increase was supposed to kick in for current subscribers late last month, but was put off.
The Ultra package is the most expensive in its lineup at $74.99 per month, and includes popular channels like AMC, ESPN and National Geographic. Competition in the live streaming market has been ramping up for companies like Sony in recent months.
YouTube TV has expanded its availability to more than half of pay-TV households in the U.S. and now supports Android TV devices. Philo, a new sports-free streaming service, also launched nationwide last week. Philo, named after television’s inventor Philo Farnsworth, offers a $16 per month subscription for 35+ live TV channels.
A&E, Animal Planet, MTV and Investigation Discovery are among the channels in Philo’s channel lineup.
PS Vue app upgrades
Sony revamped its PlayStation Vue app earlier this month for all Roku devices, bringing its user interface closer to what’s seen on Amazon Fire TV and Android TV. Roku streaming devices have had the new PlayStation app for weeks. But Roku TV owners have to wait until the Roku OS8 software update to get the new PlayStation Vue app.
Earlier this week, the PlayStation Vue app also began supporting hands-free voice commands for Amazon Fire TV devices connected to Amazon Echo or Echo Dot. Subscribers can now start the PlayStation Vue app by voice, change channels, rewind and fast forward shows.