About a year ago I decided enough was enough, I was no longer willing to pay the unreasonable sums to my cable company for the privilege of watching just a few channels. So began my quest to cut the cord and still be able to watch my favorite shows.
The problem, I knew, was finding the solution without breaking the bank and, thus, make cutting the cord completely useless. I already had Netflix and Amazon Prime, so that did a lot to scratch my television itch but it wasn’t good enough. Sure, I thought, I could purchase seasons from Amazon digitally and just watch at my leisure and that would work with for my absolute favorite, longer running shows, but it wouldn’t work for new shows I wanted to try out. So off to Hulu I went.
Which was fine, for a bit.
Then networks started their own, proprietary streaming services and poof went some of my shows.
Back to the drawing board I went.
Insert montage of me trying various combinations of subscribing to basic cable, cancelling basic cable, trying CBS All-Access, cancelling CBS All-Access, trying every single free app on both the Xbox One and the PS4 and on and on it went. I tried Sling TV and even tried Roku through my cable provider and neither worked for me.
You get the idea of the madcap merry-go-round I was on. In the meantime I was missing some of my shows, both on basic networks and everything on AMC and BBCA. Some I was able to watch at friend’s houses and others I just resigned myself to missing until they pop up on Netflix, which I know they will do right before the fall 2016 Fall Season.
As an aside, I have somehow managed to avoid all spoilers relating to The Walking Dead, despite missing all of Season 6. Not sure how I’ve done that.
Eventually, I gave up the search, contenting myself with Hulu, Netflix, and Amazon Prime. Couple that with a few months of heavy travel and it no longer seemed to matter. Fast forward to March and I found myself missing things like The Travel Channel, or CNN and that is right when PlayStation pushed Vue out to wide release.
I decided to give it a shot and subscribed to the base level, Access. It’s now been a month and I can safely say I have a handle on how the whole thing works. Let’s talk about the pros and cons.
Fixed price. You can look at the 3 different tiers and the add on channels here. It’s very straight forward, what you see is what you get, no hidden taxes or fees, just straight pricing like Hulu, or Netflix. Frankly, the prices are very decent, at least for the Los Angeles area. Your experience may vary depending on your market.
No contract. Again, like Hulu or Netflix, cancel at any time with no penalty.
No rental fees. It’s through either your PS4/PS3 or an Amazon Fire TV which you purchased, no more equipment rental fees.
It more or less works just like your normal cable service complete with a comprehensive guide, DVR(ish) capabilities, and On-Demand. If you want to watch the Parts Unknown marathon on CNN, go nuts.
Interface is fairly intuitive and once you get used to it, it’s a breeze to navigate and find your favorite channel or show.
I say DVRish because it isn’t technically a DVR and works more like On-Demand. You mark your favorite shows and, from your favorite shows menu, you can watch the most recent episodes. On average you have the most recent 5 episodes at your command and roughly 28 days to watch anything after it first aires.
The base service has AMC, which means The Walking Dead, Preacher, and The Night Manager. It also has Disney XD which means Rebels and, I would assume, any future Star Wars animated shows. Both are difficult channels to get through other methods.
Following up on that previous aside, currently you can watch Season 6, in it’s entirety, of The Walking Dead through the On-Demand service. Two guesses on who is going to set aside a day and binge the season.
The base service also includes ESPN, for those that like that sort of thing. However, eSports now air on ESPN so when you miss the finals of Heroes of the Dorm, like I did, you are able to stream it back thanks to that On-Demand feature.
Networks recognize PlayStation Vue as a network provider which gives you access to all their “TV Anywhere” apps. Check the website for a full list of partners.
Since Vue is new, they are offering a few deals on their packages.
It is a streaming service so it’s only as strong as your Internet service.
Vue is still in its early stages so it isn’t without bugs. Some days are worse than others but, a little bit of patience and maybe the dreaded power cycle, and you’re back up and running. Most of the time I’ve had no issues.
Some channels don’t actually air the commercials. This isn’t as great as it sounds because those network replace the commercials with a full screen logo for the duration. It’s a little jarring and I, personally, would rather the channels just play with commercials.
The channels are very limited right now. Just an example; there is nothing from the A&E Networks which means no History Channel so no Vikings and no Lifetime so no Project Runway. There is also no BBCA which means no Orphan Black or Doctor Who and no PBS which means a whole lot is missing including Sherlock. However, all of these things can be purchased through Amazon Instant Video, if you are so inclined. Or you can find those shows through their proprietary apps. Otherwise, you can either wait for the shows to hit Amazon Prime or Netflix, or crash on your favorite friend’s couch and watch the shows with them.
Not a pro but not necessarily a con.
If you stream it through your PS4 or PS3 then you use your controller, which some people find to be a deal breaker. But, again, there is a work around, if you are so inclined. Amazon Fire TV is the only television box that currently offers the Vue app, if you have that, you have a handy little remote control and don’t have to worry about using the controller.
Everything depends on your service area. What I have available in Los Angeles may not be the same in another market.
WOULD RECOMMEND? ABSOLUTELY
All in all PlayStation Vue is a fantastic alternative to handing over your paycheck to your cable provider. I hope, as time goes on, the channel lineup will become more robust and I’m sure the small bugs will be worked out. After a month of using it, I’m very happy and have recommended it to my friends looking to cut the cord.
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