Sony's Playstation Vue streaming TV service is now available to residents of New York, Chicago and Philadelphia. While I'm disappointed I can't try it for myself yet, at least now we know all the details.
Let's talk price. Vue starts at $50/month and goes up to $70/month. That's not cheap and I'm not sure they'll pull in many cord cutters with those prices. But the service is extensive enough that they might lure some cable subscribers away from those clunky set top boxes and terrible interfaces and onto the Playstation 3s and 4s sitting under TVs.
The $50 tier includes 52 channels, including CBS, NBC and Fox as well as stuff like Discovery, the Science Channel, SyFy, Animal Planet, TNT and FX (AMC is supposed to be coming soon). The $60 tier adds a few sports channels (but not ESPN) like BTN and the Golf Channel, as well as Turner Classic Movies and a few others. The $70 tier adds a bunch of lesser-known channels, bringing the current total to 84. You can see all the plans on Sony's site.
Notable by their absences are ABC, Disney and as mentioned, ESPN.
As of now you need a Playstation 3 or 4 to access Vue, with iPad support coming soon and the intention is to roll the service out to a variety of streaming boxes like the Roku. I'm guessing we won't see it on the Xbox any time soon, though.
In addition to live TV Vue offers a 'cloud DVR' with 'virtually unlimited space' that will store programs for up to 28 days, and popular shows have a 3 day "catch up" period where you can watch episodes up to 3 days after they aired without any action on your part. (This seems to be for those cases when you go into the office and hear about a great show that premiered last night.)
I still have questions that need answering. For shows that you 'record' on the DVR, can you fast forward through ads? Also how many concurrent streams does Vue support? (I read a comment that said three but I've been unable to confirm that so far.) Can you record every show? One of my issues with Sling TV is that there are different rules for different channels. Some offer shows on demand, some you can't even pause. I'd like to know if Vue has the same kinds of issues.
If you're in one of the cities where Vue is available you can get get a one week trial. I plan on doing that as soon as it becomes available in my city. And when will that be? Sony isn't saying. It sounds like the plan is to expand to other major cities first before eventually going nationwide but there's no set timeline (at least not one available to the public) for when this will happen.
I'll look at the silver lining and hope that ABC is on board by the time it gets to my city! Vue feels like a big deal to me, but in terms of disrupting the TV industry and on a personal level. It's expensive enough that I'd never consider having both Vue and a cable subscription so switching over to Vue would mean finally cutting down that huge cable bill. (Without digging out past bills I'm guessing I'd save about $60-$70/month with Internet service + Vue vs my current cable subscription.) We do watch a lot of TV in my house and I'm embarrassed to admit that cutting that cord feels like a big step!