About a year ago I started up with SlingTV, the cord-cutting service, and was pretty enthusiastic about it. The El Rey network was a particularly pleasant discovery, with an eclectic mix of monster movies, lucha wrestling and martial arts films. But lately it’s been getting a little frustrating. The app was flaky as hell, sometimes restarting for no reason, sometimes locking up to the point I had to reset my Fire stick completely. And as for the streaming itself, it seemed like when I was just idly surfing, everything was fine, but as soon as something was on I actually wanted to see, it would become unwatchable. Sporting events and popular shows were particularly bad. Still, it was better than cable, and I was sure the service would improve given time.
This week, Sony opened up its PlayStation Vue service nationally, and made it available outside its PlayStation consoles. There was a free trial, so I figured I’d at least give it a look.
I cancelled my SlingTV account less than an hour later.
From the get go, the streaming was flawless. No stutters. No hang-ups. No pixelation. It looked as good as cable. The navigation was a little slow at times, but part of that was me getting used to the interface. It’s got built-in DVR functionality, saving episodes in the cloud for up to 28 days, and with ABC, NBC and FOX shows on demand (CBS remains strangely absent, both here and on Hulu). It really felt like a quantum leap up from Sling.
And as far as cost goes, there’s no comparison. My Sling subscription was costing me $50 a month for a handful of channels, many of them arcane, unheard on-demand networks, along with HBO, a variety of movie channels, and a sports package with the different ESPN networks. For $45 a month on Vue, I get almost triple the channels, albeit without HBO. But I’ll likely drop down to the middle programming tier once my trial runs out — losing a lot of redundant versions of MTV and VH1, so no real loss. Still more channels than Sling, and adding HBO Go onto it, the same price. I do lose my beloved El Rey network, but I can’t imagine Vue isn’t trying to snag that. And with Hulu to cover the rest, I’m golden.
To be fair, Sling doesn’t have a giant like Sony behind it. If it did, its service would probably be a little more robust. As it is, it was adequate. Vue is excellent. Switching was an easy decision.