For those fed up with their cable or satellite TV company, there has never been a better time to cut the cord.
Streaming video services are giving live TV stiff competition, and with once cable-exclusive channels like HBO now offering its content through its own subscription services, the reasons to keep cable continue to dwindle. With streaming services, you won’t run into hidden charges, and if you ever decide to cancel, it’s easy and painless, unlike dealing with customer service reps whose job it is to keep you using cable.
PlayStation Vue and Sling TV have emerged as major competition to traditional cable as they offer live TV, on-demand programming, and, in some cases, cloud-based DVR, making them not just suitable cable alternatives, but capable replacements. But which service is better? In order to help you find the best replacement for your cable subscription, we’ve put together this handy guide, detailing the differences between PlayStation Vue and Sling TV. Below, you’ll find a breakdown of each service’s features and content offerings and how they compare.
|PlayStation Vue||Sling TV|
|Pricing||$30/month for 55+ channels ($35 in select cities*); |
$40/month for 70+ channels;
$45/month for 100+ channels
|$20/month 20+ channels; |
$25/month 40+ channels;
$40/month 45+ channels;
additional channel add-on packs from $5-$15
|Major Networks||ABC, NBC, FOX (Major networks live ins select cities; on-demand all other locations)||ABC, FOX, NBC (live in select cities**; no on demand)|
|Subscription Type||Monthly, no contract, cancel anytime||Monthly, no contract, cancel anytime|
|DVR||Cloud DVR (keep up to 28 days)||In Beta|
|Video On Demand||Yes, including local channels where available*||Yes (on select channels, shows)|
|Pause, Rewind, Fast Forward||All channels||Only select channels|
|Replay/Catch-up||Select channels and shows||Select channels and shows|
|Number of streams per account||5||1-3, depending on subscription|
|Audio||2-channel stereo||2-channel stereo|
* PlayStation Vue local live programming available in: New York, Los Angeles, Chicago, Philadelphia, Dallas, San Francisco and Miami.
**Sling TV local ABC available in: New York, Los Angeles, Chicago, Philadelphia, San Francisco, Houston, Raleigh-Durham and Fresno-Visalia.
Channel offerings differ quite a bit between the two services and the multiple packages they offer. Here’s what each service offers.
In general, PlayStation Vue’s packages offer more channels, and are therefore more expensive, than Sling TV’s offerings. PlayStation Vue’s base subscription package, Access Slim, is $30 per month, and grants you access to 55 live channels, including ESPN, CNN, AMC and more, along with on-demand access to programming from the major networks ABC, NBC, and FOX (Note: in select cities, the base package is $35 per month, but includes live ABC, NBC, and Fox, including local programming).
Beyond Access Slim, Vue has two more subscription tiers. Core Slim, which offers 70 channels at $35 per month, adding channels like CSN, ESPNEWS, and ESPN U, as well as Turner Classic Movies to the previous tier’s list.
The biggest package PlayStation Vue offers is Elite Slim, which provides 100 channels at $45 per month. EPIX Hits, Machinima, and many others are added to the list.
There aren’t many options for those looking for a la carte choices, however. Standalone subscriptions are available for Showtime, Machinima, Fox Soccer Plus, and EPIX Hits at varying prices, but these are all included at the Elite Slim subscription level anyway. The two add-ons that are not included in any of the channel packages are HBO and Showtime, which are available at $15/month and $11/month, respectively. Recently Vue removed Viacom-owned channels from their service — MTV, MTV2, VH1, Spike, and Comedy Central all go the ax. Conversely, several previously unavailable channels have been added, including ESPN, BBC America, VICE, NBC Sports, and more. You can view PlayStation Vue’s full channel line up on the service’s homepage.
Sling TV offers a few different channel packages, but they aren’t as straightforward as Vue’s. Instead of simply adding more channels to a base selection like Vue does, Sling’s packages vary quite a bit from one another as cheaper package may include certain channels that are noticeably absent from a more expensive one, despite it having a higher channel count overall.
The three Sling TV packages are Sling Orange, Sling Blue, and Sling Orange and Blue. With Orange, you’ll get 20 channels, including several ESPN properties. However, the next level, Sling Blue, ditches the ESPN channels as well Disney Channel and Free Form, but bumps the total number of channels to over 40 for just a $5 increase. For those who wish to have the broader channel offerings of Orange, and also want EPSN and the Disney channels, the $40 Sling Orange and Blue packages includes all channels included in Blue and Orange combined.
From there, Sling offers a number of add-on packages at varying prices that feature a number of different channels, including everything from networks like ABC, favorites like MTV or Spike, or premium cable options like HBO. Depending on your base package, though, some channels may not be available. For a detailed breakdown of Sling TV’s numerous offerings and add-ons, and their limitations, check out our Sling TV guide which covers everything you need to know about the service.
Bear in mind that, between add-on packages and other streaming services (like Hulu or Netflix), at a certain point the money saved by cutting cable begins to dwindle, and these services add up to expensive monthly bills for a lot of programming you won’t watch, and a few channels you will. These services are still better than cable, even in those cases, as they can easily be canceled at any time hassle-free, and, more importantly, won’t skewer you with hidden charges or fees, and don’t involve rental equipment, but be sure to keep this fact in mind when deciding between packages or add-ons.
We’re giving the nod to PlayStation Vue here — it simply has more content. If you really need HBO, you can spring for a HBO Now subscription at the same cost for what you would pay for HBO on Sling.
Winner: PlayStation Vue
There’s a pretty big difference between the devices supported by both services. Here’s a quick chart showing which service appears on what devices.
|Device||PlayStation Vue||Sling TV|
|Amazon Fire TV||X||X|
|Amazon Fire TV Stick||X||X|
|Android TV Devices||X||X|
|Apple TV (4th Gen)||X||X|
|Channel Master DVR+||X|
|Select LG Smart TVs||X|
|Roku TV Models||X||X|
|Select Samsung Smart TVs||X|
|Windows (7, 8, 8.1, 10)||X||X|
|Xiaomi Mi Box||X|
A quick glance at the above chart makes it clear that PlayStation Vue lacks the device support that Sling TV enjoys, but only just. Not only does Sling TV support a slightly wider number of devices than PlayStation Vue, you’ll also have access to the same content across all devices — something we can’t say about PlayStation Vue. The only real difference in using Sling TV on a TV or set top box versus, say, and iPad or similar mobile device is the way the interface looks/responds. You’ll likely have an easier time navigating on a TV than on a mobile device, and probably better signal strength, too. But using PlayStation Vue on a TV is a very different experience than using it on a mobile device. Most importantly, some channels will be inaccessible on mobile due to licencing restrictions. Furthermore, you will not be able to access any of your recorded content. These limitations provide some real negative to choosing Vue over Sling TV. Suffice it to say, if you’re going with PlayStation Vue, using it on a TV (especially with a PS3 or PS4 console, and even more so if you’re already invested in the PlayStation ecosystem) is the way to go.
However, while Sling TV supports a wider swath of devices and doesn’t have any restrictions, it does have tighter restrictions on the number of streams an account can be running at a given time. The standard Orange subscription allows only one stream per account, however Sling Blue and Sling Orange and Blue will allow up to three users to stream at once. PlayStation Vue, on the other hand, will allow for up to five simultaneous streams on separate devices per account. Vue also allows users to make five different profiles per account, something Sling TV lacks entirely.
It’s worth noting that, in the past, PlayStation Vue required a PS3 or PS4 console in order to sign up for the service. Thankfully, that roadblock has been lifted, and you can now easily sign up for PlayStation Vue for use on any supported device easily through your web browser.
Though PlayStation Vue edges out Sling TV by supporting more simultaneous streams, the fact remains that Sling TV is supported on a wider range of devices, and is devoid of any device-specific restrictions. All things considered, we give Sling TV the win for this category.
Winner: Sling TV
In terms of extras and features, PlayStation Vue has more, and its user experience is more flexible.
Using PlayStation Vue is similar to other streaming service, such as Netflix and Hulu, in that it curates your programming guide, offering suggestions based upon your watching preferences and habits. Best of all, Vue has several features that mirror cable boxes in terms of watching experience, including fast forward/rewind on all channels, cloud DVR (which will store recordings for up to 28 days). Note that these features may be limited or absent if using the mobile version of the service.
Contrast these features with Sling TV — which uses a simple guide sans any curation or recommendations, lacks DVR, and only has fast forward/rewind on a select number of shows and channels — and PlayStation Vue looks much more enticing. The one thing Sling TV has over Vue is a bandwidth limiter, which will keep your data usage from spiking. Still, we’re going to give this one to Vue thanks to its more robust feature set.
Winner: PlayStation Vue
Both services offer passable video quality, though it falls just short of what you get from cable, satellite, and streaming services like Netflix and Amazon. You’re not getting HD quality video, and it’s fairly compressed to reduce bandwidth consumption. For the time being, neither is particularly great in the picture quality department, so we’re not inclined to call a winner.
Based on channels offered, user experience, and extra features like DVR, PlayStation Vue comes out on top. It’s also the way to go for PlayStation console owners. Sling TV, on the other hand, is cheaper, has a leaner channel listing, is available on more devices, and is devoid of any annoying restrictions when watching on mobile. Sure, PlayStation Vue packs in a lot of channels, even at the basic package, but we’re not sure you’ll find all of them necessary. Besides, cutting out that bloat is part of the reason cord cutting is so popular, and Vue’s long channel list defeats the purpose.
Individual preferences will always vary, and if we were awarding points, it looks like PlayStation Vue comes out on top. But in the end, Sling TV is more versatile, more agile, and shows the most potential. For those reasons, we’re calling Sling TV the overall winner.