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Sling TV vs. DirecTV Now vs. PlayStation Vue – Which Streaming TV Service is Right for You?

Looking to cut the cord? Here’s what you need to know.

So, you’re thinking about cutting the cord. You have Hulu and Netflix and maybe even Amazon Prime, but you’re looking to add some live TV into the mix. The good news is that right now you have three solid options in DirecTV NOW, Sling TV, and PlayStation Vue.

But how do you know which to choose? They all offer some of what you want, but how do you know which one is going to be right for you? Check out this in-depth comparison below to help set you on the right path.

A quick summary of each service

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Sling TV: Sling TV is the oldest live streaming service in the bunch (and the service I personally use the most), having been released near the beginning of 2015. The service is offered by Dish Network. Sling TV is known for being both popular among cord-cutters and generally well-liked. This is likely thanks to the low cost, ease of use, and the decent channel selection.

As with all the services here, you don’t need cable to watch them, and you won’t have to sign any contracts. You just pay the monthly fee for the package you choose, plus any add-ons, and that’s it. You can watch from a variety of devices, choose a variety of channel bundles to add to your package, and you get a free one-week trial to start your membership.

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PlayStation Vue: PlayStation Vue was originally only available to PlayStation users, but last year they decided to include support for other platforms. You pick your bundle and any add-ons, and that’s all you pay, each month. You can choose how you want to watch Vue, but there are mobile restrictions that will block where you can watch. Vue also offers a free one-week trial.

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DirecTV Now: This option comes from AT&T, which now owns DirecTV. Having just been released in late 2016, DirecTV Now is the new kid on the block. While the service is still new, it was created by a company that already offered streaming to their cable customers, so the service may have less hiccups than some of the others. Despite being owned by a cable company, you won’t need any special equipment to use DirecTV Now. You choose your package along with any add-ons, and you’ll pay by the month. Like with the other options, the first week is free. You can get an in-depth review of the service here.

A look at the basic packages

Sling TV – starting at $20/month for the Orange package

The Orange package is Sling TV’s basic option. You get more than 25 channels, including A&E, AMC, Cartoon Network, Comedy Central, CNN, Disney, ESPN, Freeform, Lifetime, TBS, and TNT. No local channels are available in this package. If you want local options and the ability to stream to up to three devices at once, you’ll need to move to the Blue package for $25 per month. The Blue package offers over 40 channels and includes both Fox and NBC in select markets, although Blue by itself doesn’t have Disney or ESPN. To get those channels back, you can pay $40 to get the two packages combined.

PlayStation Vue – starting at $30/month ($40/month in some markets) for the Slim package

In the slim package, Vue offers some similar channels to Sling TV’s basic package like AMC, Cartoon Network, and Disney. You also receive Animal Planet, ABC, some local CBS feeds, Fox, and NBC on demand, Discovery, E!, Fox News, FX, Investigation Discovery, MSNBC, OWN, and USA. Vue also offers the Core Slim package ($35), the Elite Slim package ($45), and the Ultra Slim package ($65). The unique thing about the Ultra Slim package is that it includes premium cable content like HBO and Showtime. That said, Vue no longer has the right to stream Viacom channels like MTV and Comedy Central, so that might be a deal breaker for some.

It’s also worth noting that in markets where Vue has locals, the price starts at $40 instead of $30. You’re forced into purchasing the local networks for $10/month.

DirecTV Now – starting at $35/month for the Live a Little package

With DirecTV Now, you’re going to find a lot of the channels that you find in Sling TV and Vue. The difference here is that you get even more. It’s up to you to determine if that is important to you or not. The Live a Little package includes a lot of the same popular channels plus BET, Bravo, CMT, Disney Junior, Fox News, HLN, National Geographic, Nickelodeon, Spike, and TLC. If you want more channels you can upgrade to Just Right ($50), Go Big ($60), or Gotta Have It ($70/month), which like Vue offers some premium content including eight Starz/Encore channels.

The winner, especially where pricing is concerned, is Sling TV. Otherwise, if you’re looking for robust channel packages that are similar to cable, DirecTV Now may be what you’re seeking.

A look at the add-on packages

The basic package is important, but the ability to make your package unique to you is also equally important. Having the ability to add channels and occasionally remove them offers you a bit more freedom to create the package that works for you, and is something would-be cord cutters have been clamoring for.

Sling offers HBO ($15), Cinemax ($10), and Starz ($9). These channels are the most expensive in the add-on department for Sling TV. Otherwise you can take your pick of some pretty awesome channel bundles. Most bundles are available for $5 and include anywhere from four to ten additional channels. For example, you can add the Sports Extra package, the Kids package, or the News Extra package to get some great niche channels in each category. If you want movies, you can add the Hollywood Extra pack for $5 and get channels like EPIX, TCM, and SundanceTV. Add-on channel bundles in Spanish are also available.

PlayStation Vue also has some add-ons, although the options here are less than with Sling TV. Your main options are sports and premium movie channels. Like with Sling TV, you can pick up HBO for $15. Cinemax is also available, but it costs $15 rather than $10 through Sling TV. You can also add Showtime for $11 or a Showtime and EPIX bundle for $14.

DirecTV Now’s one claim to fame where add-ons is concerned is that you can get HBO or Cinemax for just $5 each. While there isn’t much going on here in the way of add-ons, the HBO deal is a good one, especially if you were leaning towards DirecTV Now anyway.

Again, the winner here would have to be Sling TV. “If budget is your main concern, then you simply can’t beat Sling TV’s pricing,” Eric Anthony from StreamingObserver.com told Chip Chick. “You can pay as little as $20 per month, and add and subtract add-on packages as your seasonal viewing needs change.”

Device Availability

Each of these services work without a cable subscription. In all cases, all you need to watch these services is a streaming device and an internet connection. Most services will work with most streaming devices, but let’s give each service a closer look.

Sling TV works with:

  • Streaming devices: Amazon Fire TV, Apple TV, Chromecast, Roku, and others
  • Computers: Mac and Windows
  • Mobile devices: iOS and Android smartphones and tablets
  • Other: some smart TVs (including Android TV) and the Xbox One

PlayStation Vue works with:

  • Streaming devices: Amazon Fire TV, Chromecast, Apple TV, and Roku
  • Computers: Mac, Windows, and Chrome OS
  • Mobile devices: iOS and Android smartphones and tablets, although mobile restrictions block you from watching some channel outside of your home
  • Other: Android TV and PlayStation 3 and 4

DirecTV Now works with:

  • Streaming devices: Amazon Fire TV, Apple TV, and Chromecast (Roku is not yet supported)
  • Computers: Mac and Windows
  • Mobile devices: iOS and Android smartphones and tablets
  • Other: some smart TVs (not Android TV)

The winner here depends on what devices you use to stream. Sling TV could easily be the winner just because it’s on the most devices. Vue definitely loses points for being the only service to include mobile restrictions. And obviously, Roku users are left out in the cold in respect to DirecTV Now, for the time being.

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9 Comments

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  1. PlayStation Vue has On Demand content. It actually has the best On Demand library. DirecTV Now and Sling don’t always have the latest episodes on demand and they don’t even have all shows. And it’s 28 days not 29 days. So I’m not sure if the author here actually used PS Vue.

    You also forgot that PlayStation Vue has CBS live and On Demand. Live CBS is in more than 60% of the country.

    Also, I don’t think Sling wins in pricing just because they have a package with the lowest price. They also have very few channels in those packages compared to PS Vue and DirecTV Now. If you want basic channels like ESPN and FX, you’re forced to buy the most expensive package with Sling. And that won’t give you all of the same channels you would get on PS Vue for $40.

    PlayStation Vue has a guide. It’s 3 days though – not 14 days like cable or DirecTV Now.

  2. Well I just signed up for PlayStation vue. I like the ideal of a dvr and I will pay for the first month to give us time to decide where I live vue don’t have cbs even on demand and we also live where using a antenna no matter how big just don’t work and cbs is the only local broadcast channel we watch and cbs all acess cost 6 dollars no matter which of the 3 we use I would like like the hallmark channels only available with sling add on package and they have a dvr in beta so I said all of that to say this the clear winner between the three is going to depend on what on what channels and services are important to each person and also to some extent where you live. When dish gets the dvr out of beta I will buy another month and see. Isn’t having choices great

  3. Thanks for your feedback! The author does point out that on-demand content from Sling TV and DirecTV Now are limited. You’re correct about the PS Vue Cloud DVR; that’s a typo we missed.

    For PS Vue, that’s a good point about CBS, and I’m seeing they’ve recently added several more local networks. You’re also correct that PS Vue has an on-demand library; we’ll amend the error with an update, as we will with Android TV and Apple TV compatibility.

    ESPN is included with Sling TV’s cheapest offering, the Orange package. I believe the intent was to say Sling TV has the cheapest package in absolute terms; with value, it’s up to individual needs.

    The PlayStation Vue guide, if I understand correctly, is not available on all platforms – the lack of one seems to be a common complaint among Roku users.

    Again, thanks for your feedback. Shifting sands appear to be the norm with streaming TV services, but we’ll do our best to stay on top of things!

  4. So, I’m guessing PS Vue doesn’t provide CBS on Demand to markets without CBS Live. Interesting.

    PS Vue was perfect until they decided to get rid of Viacom. They should have at least created an add-on for Viacom channels to give us a choice if we want to pay a little more instead of getting rid of Viacom completely.

    I just wish there was one package that satisfied all the needs, even if it’s a little more expensive. I just have to wait and see what Google and Hulu have to offer.

  5. Thank you. My ESPN point on Sling meant that you can’t have ESPN and other common channels like FX and USA at the same time without paying for the most expensive package. Most basic cable channels begin in Sling Blue which lacks Disney/ESPN. So, you’re forced to either choose ESPN without the rest, or choose the rest without ESPN/Disney or pay the highest price.

    But yes, I agree it gives people freedom because not everyone watches ESPN and Disney channels so Sling Blue is perfect for them. Others just want a cheap package to watch Disney/ESPN and a few other channels. So, this is the most freedom we can get, I guess.

  6. The TV Everywhere feature of the PS Vue is very handy. There are over 50 network websites and apps that a subscriber can use outside of the Vue’s app which would allow you to see another networks library of programming that might not be available to watching just on Vue.

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  8. Last year I paid a lot of money for NFL network. NEVER AGAIN ! Now I am watching NFL online via
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