The best streaming TV plan: Sling TV vs Playstation Vue

Sling TV vs Playstation Vue: the two frontrunners battling it out to be the best streaming TV plan. Both of these plans deliver a bundle of channels over the internet that were previously only available through cable or satellite TV. Sling TV is currently available nationwide with a free trial, while Playstation Vue has only launched in a few major cities. Sling focuses on a smaller number of popular channels to keep the price down, while Vue has many more channels and starts at over double the price. Let's take a look and see how Sling TV vs Playstation Vue compare.

Sling TV vs Playstation Vue Content

Sling TV vs Playstation Vue may come down to ESPN

Sling TV vs Playstation Vue may come down to ESPN

The old saying 'content is king' is applicable here, so let's start there. Sling TV centers around ESPN, ESPN2, AMC, TNT, CNN, and Disney. Playstation Vue also features AMC and just about everything else, with channels from CBS, FOX, NBC, Discovery, and Viacom (Nickelodeon, Comedy Central, MTV). The two services have minimal overlap, so you'd have to subscribe to both to recreate a standard cable bundle.

Sling also has several $5 add-on packs for Sports, Kids, News, and Epix, with HBO coming soon for $15. Vue offers three plans at $50, $60, or $70.

Much has been made of Sling TV's focus on sports through ESPN, TNT (March Madness, NBA, PGA), and TBS (MLB), and a $5 add-on pack with more ESPN channels and some international channels. However, Playstation Vue will feature plenty of live sports of their own on CBS, NBC, NBC Sports, FOX, FOX Sports, Golf Channel, and some regional sports networks. These channels actually broadcast more NFL (America's favorite sport) than Sling, plus plenty of MLB, NHL, college football and basketball, NASCAR, F1, soccer, UFC, and more.

UI, DVR, On-demand

Both services have a new take on the TV interface. There are no channel numbers, and the start screens look more like the home screen of a game console or Netflix app than a TV guide.

Regarding DVR controls and on-demand content, GigaOm's leak said it best:

One of the big issues that came up with the launch of Sling TV were the varying rights assigned to each channel. Some networks let users rewind and watch shows from the past 72 hours, but most didn’t. That doesn’t seem to be an issue with PlayStation Vue, at least from what I’m hearing so far. The service allows users to catch up on shows for up to three days, and also “record” episodes on its cloud DVR for up to 28 days.

All of the best channels on Sling require you watch them live. That may not be an issue for live sporting events, but I wish I could watch AMC shows and ESPN content like SportsCenter or PTI on-demand.

Sling TV only supports one simultaneous stream, so clearly this is aimed at single people or households with a single TV. No word on Vue yet.

Sling TV vs Playstation Vue Devices

Both services stream content to devices you already own. Sling TV is currently available for iPhone, iPad, Android, computers, Roku, and Amazon Fire TV with Xbox and more coming soon. Playstation Vue will debut on Playstation 3 and 4 with iPad access following soon. I'd expect both services to be available on a wide variety of devices by year's end.

The best streaming TV plan

There's no easy way to answer which is the best of Sling TV vs Playstation Vue, because it is so dependent on content preferences and price sensitivity. Sling TV is a great way to get ESPN, AMC, TNT, and Disney for $20 per month, but if you need more channels than that Playstation Vue may be a better choice. If you'd need to subscribe to both of these to get all the content you want, you're probably better off with a traditional cable package.

Personally, I like Sling's 'best of live TV' strategy. It has a few very desirable channels, and access to great movies through Epix and HBO for additional fees. Sign up for a free trial today, and if you like it there's a promotion to get a free Roku Stick or Amazon Fire TV Stick or 50% off other devices when you sign up for 3 months.

Playstation Vue probably doesn't offer enough value compared to cable for most people given the holes in its lineup (no ABC, Disney, ESPN, etc). The only way I could recommend it is if you already have a Playstation and really value the user interface. Get more details here, and see if it's launched in your area yet.

In addition to Sling and Vue, CBS offers All Access for $6/monthHBO Now is coming soon for $15/month, and we should also see services from ShowtimeNickelodeon, and more later this year. We're getting closer to creating our own personalized cable bundle.