Note: Playstation Vue is no longer offered as a streaming service
More people than ever are choosing to cut the cord on cable. Last year, more than 56 million people went without cable, and this number is expected to increase in the coming year.
Partly, this is due to the surging cost of cable. But internet TV providers like AT&T TV Now and PlayStation Vue are also driving people to cut the cord.
Not sure which internet TV service is right for you? In this article, we’ll break down the difference between these two leading “skinny bundle” cable replacer services. Let’s get started.
PlayStation Vue and DirecTV Now are both “skinny bundle” internet TV services. Internet TV allows you to replace your existing cable subscription with a lower-cost bundle. Usually, these bundles have fewer channels, which is why they are called “skinny bundles”.
Users access these channels directly via the internet, without a satellite dish, antenna, or cable hookup. You can watch TV on any device that is connected to your wireless or wired home TV network, which makes it easier to watch wherever you want.
All of these internet TV services, like DirecTV Now and PlayStation Vue, also do not require you to sign a long-term contract or charge setup/cancellation fees. You pay a flat, month by month subscription without any hidden fees or other charges. This is in contrast to the complex, confusing cable bills that most people are faced with every month.
Finally, the price of an internet TV service is usually much less than cable. You can get a base-tier subscription to PlayStation Vue or DirecTV Now for around $40/month, which is much less than the nearly $100/month average cost of a cable bill.
Now that you understand the basics of internet TV, let’s explore the different features of PlayStation Vue and DirecTV Now – two of the most popular internet TV providers.
DirecTV Now is owned by AT&T and DirecTV, and was created in order to bring in cord-cutters who decided to cancel their pay TV subscription. It has the best channel lineup out there, but lacks some modern features that all other internet TV services include in their subscriptions.
There are a total of four different subscription tiers available on DirecTV Now, so you can choose the one that’s right for you. If you’re on a budget, you can choose the $35/month “Live A Little” package.
But if you need a comprehensive lineup of channels, you can get over 120 channels, including premiums, for $70/month with the “Gotta Have It” package. You can check out the full channel lineup on their website.
By far, the best feature of DirecTV Now is their comprehensive lineup of cable channels. Even the cheapest, $35/month package includes quite a few highly-sought-after cable channels.
You get coverage for sports from ESPN and Fox Sports, cable news from CNN and Fox News, VH1 and BET for reality TV, and top cable channels like AMC and FX for prestige drama. And if you want even more channels, you can upgrade to one of the other, more expensive packages.
DirecTV Now also has a lot of on-demand content. Their website claims that they have more than 25,000 titles available to watch on-demand, and you can usually watch recently-aired episodes of new TV shows using the service.
DirecTV Now also lets you log into most cable networks with your DirecTV Now credentials, to watch via your web browser and supported apps.
Finally, it also has good device coverage. You can watch on just about any device or streaming platform!
DirecTV Now doesn’t have any kind of DVR, unlike every other internet TV service. The DVR is supposed to be released free of charge sometime in the spring of 2018, but there has been no solid release date. Even when it is released, users will only get a paltry 20 hours of storage. Don’t expect to be able to save your shows for long.
You can also only stream on 2 devices simultaneously with your DirecTV Now account. Again, DirecTV Now claims that they will add support for a third stream sometime in the spring, but there is no news about a specific release date.
DirecTV Now has about 1.2 million subscribers as of January 2018.
PlayStation Vue is quite similar to DirecTV Now. Created by Sony, this service has an unfortunate name (contrary to popular belief, you don’t need a PlayStation console to use it), and has struggled to gain a solid market share.
This is a shame, because it’s definitely one of the best internet TV service for larger families. You get four different subscription options with PlayStation Vue.
- Access – 45 channels, $40/month
- Core – 60 channels, $45/month
- Elite – 84 channels, $55/month
- Ultra – All Elite channels plus HBO/Showtime, $75/month
As you can see, these are quite similar to the options offered by DirecTV Now. If you just need a few cable channels like FX, ESPN and ESPN2, Fox Sports, and CNN, you can choose the lowest-cost “Access” package.
However, if you want a comprehensive set of cable channels, plus premium channels, you can upgrade to the Ultra plan – or choose from the “in-between” Core and Elite plans.
The two best features of PlayStation Vue are its simultaneous streaming policy, and its DVR.
You can stream PlayStation Vue on up to 5 devices at once, depending on the devices you’re using. This is the largest number of free, simultaneous streams allowed by any internet TV provider. You can also stream on up to 3 devices at once outside of your home.
Additionally, get a great DVR at no extra cost. You can save unlimited hours of programming for 28 days.
PlayStation Vue is more expensive than competitors like DirecTV Now, and has fewer channels. It also does not have that much on-demand content, so you’ll want to make sure that you remember to DVR your favorite shows or you may not be able to watch them.
Analysts estimate that PlayStation Vue has about 670,000 users in total, though these numbers have not been confirmed by Sony.
Fact 1: PlayStation Vue is Better for Families
PlayStation Vue is an ideal choice if you are thinking about replacing cable, and you have a larger family. Because you can stream on up to 5 devices at once, you’ll never have to worry about missing your favorite show because your other family members are watching TV.
In addition, the 28-day unlimited DVR allows you to record your favorite shows for later viewing, and you never have to worry about them being accidentally erased in order to make room in the DVR.
In contrast, DirecTV Now only lets you stream on 2 devices, and has no DVR. PlayStation Vue may be a bit more expensive, but it’s certainly worth it for larger families, or households that are sharing an internet TV subscription.
Fact 2: Both Services Give You Plenty of Channels to Choose From – But DirecTV Now is Cheaper
You can get up to 80+ channels with the PlayStation Vue “Ultra” package, which costs $75/month. This includes premiums like HBO and Showtime, and EPIX.
DirecTV Now also offers plenty of channels to choose from. With the $70/month “Gotta Have It” plan, you can get up to 120+ channels, depending on your location. This subscription also includes HBO and Showtime, as STARZ.
DirecTV Now is cheaper if you are just interested in the most channels for the lowest price. It’s $5/month less than PlayStation Vue while offering 40 more channels.
Fact 3: DirecTV Now Has Better Prices for Premium Channels
If you are looking to subscribe to just one or two premium channels like Showtime or HBO, DirecTV Now is a better choice for you.
PlayStation Vue has only two premium channels to choose from: HBO and Showtime. HBO will cost you $15/month on PlayStation Vue, and Showtime costs $11/month.
DirecTV Now has more options for premium channels. You can subscribe to HBO for just $5/month, Cinemax for $5/month, Showtime for $8/month, and STARZ networks for $8/month.
If you are interested in choosing a lower-cost TV package and adding your favorite premium networks “a la carte”, DirecTV Now is definitely a better option.
Fact 4: DirecTV Now and PlayStation Vue Have Very Similar Device Support
DirecTV Now and PlayStation Vue both support a wide range of mobile streaming devices, as well as at-home streaming platforms. They both support:
- Online streaming in web browsers
- iOS and Android devices
- Amazon Fire TV
- Apple TV
- Google Chromecast
PlayStation Vue also supports the PlayStation 3 and 4, as well as Android TV, which are not supported by DirecTV Now.
You can check out the full list of DirecTV supported devices and PlayStation Vue supported devices now.
Fact 5: DirecTV Now is Better for On-Demand Shows
If you typically watch your shows on-demand, DirecTV Now may be a better option for you. The service usually has most recently-aired network and cable shows on-demand, and there are a total of 25,000+ titles available for streaming.
PlayStation Vue has much more limited support for on-demand shows. However, because you do get a free DVR, you will always be able to catch your favorite shows if you remember to record them.
Fact 6: Both PlayStation Vue and DirecTV Now Let You Log Into Cable Apps and Websites
With PlayStation Vue, you can log into about 60 total websites of partnered networks like Cartoon Network, WatchESPN, and more, as well as the mobile apps for these services.
However, DirecTV Now has a bit of an edge here, because it supports more apps and websites. You can log into 70+ cable websites with your DirecTV Now subscription.
This allows you to easily watch your favorite channels on the go. Also, when you log into a cable website using your credentials for DirecTV Now or PlayStation Vue, it doesn’t count as a simultaneous stream. For example, if you had DirecTV Now, you could watch ESPN on your tablet with the WatchESPN app even if two of your other family members were streaming using DirecTV Now.
Fact 7: You Can Try Both DirecTV Now and PlayStation Vue for Free
Whether you’re interested in the large channel selection of DirecTV Now or the family-friendly features of PlayStation Vue, you can try them both for free.
PlayStation Vue offers a free 5-day trial on their website, so you can see if the service is right for you.
DirecTV Now also offers a free, 7-day trial. Check it out now and see which service is the best choice for your particular needs. There are also a few other great promotional deals available for new subscribers, which you can check out here.
DirecTV Now Vs. PlayStation Vue: Which Is Better?
Both DirecTV Now and PlayStation Vue have advantages and drawbacks. Which one is right for you depends on your specific needs. Not sure which one to choose? Here are a few questions to ask yourself.
Are you replacing cable for a large family?
If you are planning to share an internet TV subscription with a larger family of 4 or more people, PlayStation Vue will be a better choice.
You don’t get quite as many channels, and it is slightly more expensive, but being able to record unlimited shows on the DVR and stream on 5 simultaneous devices is worth the investment.
Do you plan on subscribing to premium channels?
DirecTV Now is a much cheaper option if you plan on subscribing to premium channels like HBO, Cinemax, and Showtime. It also has a number of premium networks, such as STARZ networks, that are not available on PlayStation VUE.
Do you need a DVR?
If you prefer to watch live TV and don’t need a DVR, DirecTV Now is a reasonable choice. With DVR support eventually coming, you will be able to record your favorite shows sometime in the near future.
However, if you need a DVR now, PlayStation Vue is a better choice. Even once DirecTV Now does release their free, 20-hour DVR, PlayStation Vue will have a better DVR service, so it’s our top option for cord-cutters who are looking to record their favorite shows to watch later.
Eric Liston is a content writer based in Columbus, Ohio. Since 2015, he’s been writing about technology, cord-cutting, and helping everyday people save money. He also has expertise writing about medicine, dentistry, insurance, and a variety of other industries. No matter what he’s writing, his focus is always on simplifying complex concepts and making them approachable for everyone. When he’s not slamming away on his keyboard at his home office, you’ll find Eric reading sci-fi novels, improving his disc golf game (he just hit his first 400-foot drive) and playing video games on his gaming PC.