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From cost and channels to bonus features, here’s what you need to know.
If you live in an area with high-speed internet, there’s no reason to stick with your cable company for TV. Whether you want a cheap plan that just covers major channels or a more traditional cable package, there’s a streaming service that will suit your needs. Sling TV is a customizable service with plans starting at $25 per month. On the other hand, PlayStation Vue offers a basic cable replacement with a digital twist. Each service has its own strengths, but in a head-to-head battle, who comes out on top? Here’s everything you need to know about PlayStation Vue vs. Sling TV.
PlayStation Vue vs. Sling TV cost
- PlayStation Vue cost: $44.99-$79.99 per month (after a 5-day free trial)
- Sling TV cost: $25-$40 per month (after a 7-day free trial)
For many viewers, the battle between PlayStation Vue and Sling TV will come down to cost. Sling TV packages run from $25 to $40 per month. Of all the streaming TV services, Sling TV is the cheapest one that also includes local channels (though it’s limited to just Fox and NBC). Sling TV offers three packages: Orange, Blue, and Orange + Blue. The Orange and Blue packages each cost $25 per month before add-ons while bundling Orange + Blue together costs $40 per month.
PlayStation Vue’s tiers are priced like a traditional cable plan but without a long-term contract. PlayStation Vue offers four plans starting at $44.99 per month and tops out at $79.99 per month before add-ons. At first glance, Sling TV looks like the obvious winner, but you’re almost certainly going to want the Orange + Blue package (more on that below) and the add-ons pile up fast. For example, PlayStation Vue comes with unlimited cloud DVR, while Sling TV charges you $5 per month for the feature, which essentially puts the two services on equal footing when it comes to monthly costs.
PlayStation Vue vs. Sling TV channels
Sling TV channels come in three packages, each with its own quirks. The Orange package comes with 34 channels, including ESPN, Comedy Central, Disney, and Food Network. The only news option is CNN, but families looking for basic sports and entertainment should find most of their needs met. The one catch is Sling Orange doesn’t include local channels, and you can only stream on one device at a time.
To watch local channels, you’ll need Sling Blue or Orange + Blue, which come with access to local NBC and Fox affiliates. ABC and CBS are only available if you couple Sling TV with a digital antenna and an extra device.
The Sling Blue package clocks in at 47-plus channels. That’s 13 more than Sling Orange, plus local channels. Sadly, the compromise for those extras is losing ESPN. Sling Blue offers family favorites like Comedy Central, Disney, Travel Channel, Food Network, and Nick Jr., among others. While this isn’t ideal for sports fans, subscribers get the addition of the NFL Network and Fox Sports to soften the blow.
Viewers still looking for more can pony up $40 per month for the Orange + Blue package, which offers roughly 54 channels and local stations. You’ll notice that’s only seven extra channels than Sling Blue but 20 more than the Orange package. For only having three packages, Sling TV is oddly complicated. (Here’s a complete guide to Sling TV channels and our Sling TV review.)
Compared to Sling TV, PlayStation Vue’s channel packages are simple. They also each come with local channels. PlayStation Vue starts with the $44.99 per month for the 50 channel Access package and tops out at $79.99 per month for the 85-plus Ultra package. Every PlayStation Vue package comes with Cartoon Network, ESPN, CNN, Fox News, MSNBC, Discovery, Disney, FX, and more. While $79.99 for the top level may seem expensive, that package comes with both HBO and Showtime, a $25.99 per month value. (You can also just add HBO for $15 per month. It’s worth noting Sling TV doesn’t offer this option.)
When it comes to local channels, PlayStation Vue eats Sling TV’s lunch in most major markets. Sling TV has Fox and NBC but Vue offers viewers ABC, CBS, Fox, NBC, and more where available. PlayStation Vue provides more local channels than Sling TV at any level, with a starting price that’s only $5 more than Sling TV’s top tier. (Here are all of the PlayStation Vue channels and our PlayStation Vue review.)
When it comes to add-on channels, Sling TV has the most options, offering everything from additional basic cable channels to international options. Subscribers can add Showtime for $10 per month, Starz for $9 per month, and Epix for $5 per month. The service has a total of 15 channel add-ons to choose from, averaging around $5 apiece. These packages offer additional sports, comedy, and family options. It’s nice to be able to customize with your favorite channels, but $5 packages add up quickly. Perhaps most importantly, Sling TV offers NFL RedZone as part of its $10 per month Sling Blue: Sports Extra pack.
Meanwhile, PlayStation Vue offers the most premium movie and TV channels of any streaming TV service. HBO starts at $15 per month, but if you bundle it with Cinemax, it’s $21.99 per month for both. Cinemax costs $15 per month on its own. Showtime can be added for $10.99 per month, while Epix is $3.99. The $10-per-month Sports Pack adds eight sports channels, including ESPN Classic and NFL RedZone. Vue only offers one package of non-English channels, the Español Pack, which adds Baby TV, CINE SONY, CNN Español, Discovery en Español, Discovery Familia, FOX Deportes, FOX Life, Nat Geo Mundo, and Universo for $4.99 per month.
Going by pure entertainment value, PlayStation Vue wins. However, if you’re looking for channels in languages outside of Spanish or English, Sling TV significantly beats PlayStation Vue. Still, Sling’s lack of HBO hurts it in this category.
PlayStation Vue vs Sling TV DVR
In the realm of DVR, Sling TV can’t compete with PlayStation Vue. Every PlayStation Vue subscriber gets unlimited cloud DVR space, meaning you’ll never have to delete a favorite show to make room. The catch is PlayStation Vue’s DVR recordings only last for 28 days, so you won’t be able to stockpile whole seasons forever. Vue also has a handy feature called three-day rewind for when you forget to record. Users can go back up to three days in the programming guide to watch almost any program after its aired.
Sling TV does not come with cloud DVR support. It can be added for an extra $5 per month, giving users 50 hours of DVR recording space. If you go over your allotment, Sling TV will delete your oldest recording to make room for your new ones.
Both Sling TV and PlayStation Vue allow users to rewind and fast forward through most recordings—with a few exceptions, like Fox networks. But no matter what service you choose, you’ll get a satisfying amount of control over your recordings.
PlayStation Vue vs Sling TV: Which is better?
On paper, the fight between Sling TV and PlayStation Vue comes down to cost. On first glance, it seems like Sling TV is a better deal than PlayStation Vue. After all, $25 per month is a much lower starting price than $44.99. But when you start to look at added features, Sling TV’s shine begins to dull.
Sling TV packages are needlessly confusing. Each of its three options is different. Blue comes with ESPN but no local channels. Orange comes with local channels, but no ESPN. Orange + Blue comes with everything, but because there’s a lot of overlap between the Orange and Blue packages, the number of extra channels you get for upgrading is minimal.
Yes, Sling TV’s $25 Blue or Orange offerings are attractive, even if they come with a limited number of channels. They allow consumers to pick a package that best meets their needs, even if that means sacrificing a favorite. But outside of folks looking for a budget minimalist cable plan, Sling TV doesn’t do enough to set itself apart.
The Sling Orange + Blue package currently offers just four more channels than PlayStation Vue for $5 less. However, if you care about things like DVR, that starting price becomes $30 per month. A Sling Orange + Blue subscription with DVR costs $45 per month—the same as PlayStation Vue, which comes with DVR at no extra cost.
PlayStation Vue is more expensive than Sling TV, but you’re never left wondering what you’ll get. Every plan comes with local channels, favorites like ESPN, and DVR at no extra cost. More importantly, PlayStation Vue comes with unlimited DVR space.
PlayStation Vue users get more local options, more built-in features, and consistency across plans. Sling TV offers a lower price, more customization, and more options. But options aren’t always a great thing, especially when they’re divided like Sling TV. The Blue and Orange packages are fine on their own, but they seem designed to leave you wanting more so you’ll get the Orange + Blue subscription. To Sling TV’s credit, it’s been steadily adding channels in the last year, and the company cares about improving its service. I just wish Sling TV’s packages weren’t so fractured.
So who wins? The answer, for now at least, is Sling TV by a hair. If you’re looking for a sub-$30 cable package, Sling TV offers the most options at the price point. If you’re willing to pay $40 for a fuller cable package, Sling TV Orange + Blue offers two more channels than PlayStation Vue, though fewer local channels and you’ll need an alternative solution for HBO.
PlayStation Vue still makes an incredibly compelling argument for subscribing. For viewers who care about local channels, DVR, and simplicity, Vue is the better option. I wouldn’t let my grandparents sign up for Sling TV on their own; it would simply be too confusing with all the extras. PlayStation Vue keeps things simple, and sometimes that’s a selling point.
John-Michael Bond is a tech reporter and culture writer for Daily Dot. A longtime cord-cutter and early adopter, he's an expert on streaming services (Hulu with Live TV), devices (Roku, Amazon Fire), and anime. A former staff writer for TUAW, he's knowledgeable on all things Apple and Android. You can also also find him regularly performing standup comedy in Los Angeles.