PlayStation Vue is slicker than cable, but not necessarily cheaper

Sony has finally revealed pricing and the full channel list for its PlayStation Vue streaming video service, which is launching now in New York, Chicago, and Philadelphia.

The basic "Access" bundle will cost $50 per month and includes roughly 50 channels. Several major broadcast networks such as CBS, NBC, and Fox are on board, and the bundle includes dozens of cable channels such as CNN, Fox News, Comedy Central, Nickelodeon, and the Food Network.

The "Core" bundle costs $60 per month and mainly adds a handful of regional sports channels such as Fox Sports and the Big Ten Network. (The actual channels in this bundle depends on region. For instance, New York subscribers get the Yankee-focused YES network, while Chicago and Philadelphia subscribers get CSN.)

PlayStation Vue's "Elite" bundle includes 84 channels, adding more niche interests such as Cooking Channel, Fox College Sports, Sprout, and VH1 Classic. You can view the full channel list and sign up for an account through Sony's website.

One notable omission is Disney, whose channels include ABC and ESPN. That could be a good thing if you're not into sports, as ESPN's absence likely brings down the cost of Sony's bundle considerably. (And you can always tack on Sling TV if ESPN is essential.)

PlayStation Vue isn't exactly like a traditional cable TV subscription, and not just because the channels are streamed over the internet. The service's online nature allows users to save all episodes of any show for up to 28 days with no programming conflicts, and some popular primetime shows are automatically available for three days after their original air date. Users will also have powerful filtering and search options, and a way to "tag" favorite channels so they're more easily accessible on the home screen.

For now, PlayStation Vue is only available via the PlayStation 3 and PlayStation 4 consoles, but Sony says it's working on an iPad app. Sony is also looking to expand the service to more cities soon.

Why this matters: PlayStation Vue may not save you any money, especially if you're lucky enough to have decent competition among TV providers in your area. But Sony's service at least offers a new way to watch TV; just as importantly, it's an alternative to the predatory pricing and hidden fees of cable TV. There's something to be said for a service that tells you exactly what it costs up-front, and doesn't jack up your rates once you've gotten comfortable. Hopefully Sony can make it work and expand it beyond just a handful of cities.


Jared Newman

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