Cable prices comparison
Now is the best of times for streaming video, and the worst of times for traditional cable TV.
This is a tale of two services. PlayStation Vue and Sling TV are available not just in two cities, but pretty much everywhere nationwide. Both allow you to stop paying your cable or satellite provider for TV service, yet still watch live television at home and on mobile devices like iPhones.
Neither one is "a la carte" TV, that still-distant dream that allows you to pick and choose individual channels. Instead they both offer packages of certain channels for set fees, starting at $20 for Sling TV and $30 for Vue. And for both you'll need a robust Internet connection.
The good news is that you can try both for free right now, provided you have a compatible device. You can also drop either service anytime you want - for example you could keep them only long enough to catch March Madness basketball, or the current season of "The Americans" or "He Shed She Shed." Try doing that with your cable company.
So which one should you choose? Here's an in-depth comparison to help you decide.
Price, availability and features
Sling TV is cheaper, especially in certain US cities, and works with more devices. It also offers a more flexible and affordable array of step-up channel packages.
The more-expensive PlayStation Vue is easily the winner in terms of features, with a full-function "cloud DVR, " the ability to stream to multiple devices on the same account and profiles for different family members. It also beats Sling handily in sheer number of channels.
PlayStation Vue vs. Sling TVSling TVPlayStation VueBase nationwide package
/month for 20+ channels
/month for 55+ channelsBase package in select cities*
N/A (identical pricing nationwide)
/month for 60+ channelsStep-up packages
PLUS /month each (5 or more Sports, Kids, LifeStyle, Movie, News, Spanish language, etc. channels per package)
PLUS /month ("Core" with some regional sports, others), /month ("Elite" with 100+ total channels)Local ABC, CBS, Fox and NBC channels
ABC only in select cities** for an extra /month
Select cities only*Video on demand from local channels
YesCompatible TV devices
Roku (TVs, boxes and streaming stick), Chromecast, Amazon Fire TV and Fire TV Stick, Xbox One, Android TV, Channel Master DVR+
PlayStation 3, PlayStation 4, Amazon Fire TV box, Amazon Fire TV Stick, Chromecast***Compatible mobile and PC devices
Android phones and tablets, iOS phones and tablets (iPhone, iPad, iPod Touch), Amazon Fire tablets, PC and Mac computers
iPad, iPhone***Simultaneous streams per account
5Profiles for different family members
5Compatible authentication/TV Everywhere apps
607-day free trial
YesNo contract, cancel anytime
YesPause, rewind, fast-forward
Only select channels
Yes (all channels)Record shows for later (cloud DVR)
Yes (keep for up to 28 days)3-day replay/Catch Up
Select channels and shows
Select channels and showsVideo on demand
Select channels and shows
Select channels and showsSearch
Guide, filters and personalized recommendationsParental controls
*Vue cities with local channels are currently: New York, Los Angeles, Chicago, Philadelphia, Dallas, San Francisco and Miami
**Sling offers ABC via its $5/month "Broadcast Extra" pack in New York, Los Angeles, Chicago, Philadelphia, San Francisco, Houston, Raleigh-Durham and Fresno-Visalia
A couple of the items above bear expansion. Sling TV is the same nationwide while Vue's pricing is $10 more in the "select cities" listed above. In those cities you also get live local broadcasts of ABC, CBS, Fox and NBC. In other cities Vue offers shows from those networks on demand with a 24-hour delay (with CBS' on-demand service "coming soon.") Disclaimer: CBS is the parent company of CNET.
Beyond price, Sling's biggest advantage is that it works on pretty much any device - the only major exception is Apple TV. It even works with PC and Mac computers, and there are no restrictions for mobile devices.
Vue's device support is much more limited, and it suffers a bunch of restrictions on mobile use too; the DVR is inactive, for example, and certain channels aren't available. At least you don't need a PlayStation to use Vue. In fact, I actually preferred using a Fire TV box to a console.
Here's where it gets very interesting.
One of Sling TV's biggest weaknesses is the lack of most broadcast channels, namely ABC, CBS, NBC, Fox and PBS (for the record, CNET is published by CBS Interactive, a division of CBS). The exception is that Sling offers ABC for an extra $5/month in select cities.
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