Cutting the cord has never been easier thanks to the steady introduction of over-the-top (OTT) internet television services. In 2015, Dish introduced Sling TV, and Sony launched PlayStation Vue. In 2016, AT&T launched DirecTV Now.
In this article, you’ll learn about the important differences between the three services, including the packages each one offers and the price you can expect to pay.
Sling TV, which is owned by Dish Network, was first unveiled at the Consumer Electronics Show (CES) in January 2015. The service is available on multiple platforms, including iOS, Android, Apple TV, Mac/PC, Amazon Fire TV, Xbox One, and more.
Sling TV allows you to stream live shows and on-demand entertainment, including television shows and films. Many, but not all, of the channels, give you the ability to pause live programming.
While Sling TV doesn’t currently offer DVR capabilities like those found on PlayStation Vue, they are coming. In late 2016, the company began beta testing the feature on Roku devices. The ability to save content to an online cloud should launch device-wide in 2017.
Packages and Price
Unlike PlayStation Vue and DirecTV Now, Sling TV offers two base packages that are easily enhanced by $5 add-on packages. This includes:
- Sling Orange ($20), which includes 30+ channels, including ESPN and CNN.
- Sling Blue ($25), which features 40+ channels, including FOX and NBC.
For $45 per month, you can combine Sling Orange and Sling Blue, giving you around 50 channels. With a Sling Blue account, you can stream content on up to three devices at the same time. With Sling Orange, you can only stream content on one device at a time.
To date, there are eight add-on packages available, including Sports Extras, Kids Extras, News Extras, and more.
New users can typically try Sling TV free for seven days. Dish also often offers promotional deals, such as an Apple TV for $89 when you subscribe for three months, or a free Roku Express when you prepay for a month of service. You can find the latest deals by visiting the Sling TV website.
The newest OTT internet television service launched in November 2016. Unlike DirecTV, DirectTV Now is available without a long-term satellite subscription. At launch, the service is available on iOS, Android, Apple TV, Amazon Fire TV, and Chromecast. You can also watch DirecTV Now via a web browser on your PC or Mac.
DirecTV Now lacks many of the features found on other services. First, it doesn’t offer a DVR service, at least for now. Additionally, some key channels are so far missing from the service, including CBS, NFL RedZone, Showtime, and many others. Additionally, DirecTV Now streaming is limited to two devices at a time.
Mobile is the one area where DirecTV Now already leapfrogs the competition, courtesy of parent company AT&T. If you’re a current AT&T Wireless customer, you can stream DirecTV Now via a mobile device without it counting against your data limit. This is a great perk, especially for frequent travelers.
Packages and Price
At launch, DirecTV offers four uniquely named packages, including:
- Live a Little ($35) offers more than 60 channels, including ABC and ESPN.
- Just Right ($50) includes up to 80 channels, including OWN and Sundance TV.
- Go Big ($60) features more than 100 channels, including the Tennis Channel and Discovery Life.
- Gotta Have It ($70) includes 120 channels, including STARZ.
In addition to the packages noted, customers can add HBO and Cinemax for $5 per month for each one.
You can try DirecTV Now free for seven days. Like Sling TV, DirecTV Now also offers the occasional promotion, such as a free Apple TV with a prepaid three-month subscription.
First introduced in March 2015, PlayStation Vue features a combination of live television and on-demand video to stream TV shows, movies, and sports. Though initially offered only on PlayStation consoles, the service is now available on other platforms, including iOS, Android, Apple TV, Roku, Amazon Fire TV, and Google Chromecast.
PlayStation Vue is the only internet television service to offer cloud-based DVR currently. With this feature, you can capture hundreds of hours of programming for later viewing. Just tag your favorite shows, which are then automatically saved to the cloud.
Finding something to watch through PlayStation Vue begins with the built-in guide, sorted by the name of the channel. From there, you can search by show name, or explore by category, genres, and more. You can also tag your favorite channels, which puts them ahead of the others on the main screen.
With PlayStation Vue, you can stream different content on up to five devices at the same time.
Packages and Price
PlayStation Vue offers four subscription packages, beginning at $30 per month:
- The 45-channel Access Slim package ($30) is highlighted by ESPN and Disney channels.
- The 60-channel Core package ($45) features Access Slim HD channels plus regional and national sports networks.
- The 90-channel Elite package ($55) adds more sports, movie, and entertainment networks.
- The Ultra Slim package ($65) includes everything found on the Elite package plus HBO and Showtime channels.
Add-on packages are also available, depending on the base package you select. For example, you can add an Español Pack starting at $4 per month.
You can try PlayStation Vue free for seven days. Special promotions are sometimes available.
About Local Channels
Location is important when it comes to accessing local broadcast networks on OTT internet services.
At Sling TV, FOX, NBC, ABC, Univision, and Unimas are only available in select markets. DirecTV Now only provides live streaming in select markets for ABC and FOX. NBC local channels are currently unavailable using streaming devices or smart TVs.
PlayStation Vue offers similar restrictions. None of the three services currently offers CBS streaming.
Which OTT Streaming Service Is Best?
Are you ready to cut the cord? Sling TV’s entry-level package is the least expensive option on this list. However, as you select add-on packages, the monthly price can rise quickly. PlayStation Vue has the advantage of being the only service to offer DVR capabilities, while DirecTV Now is an ideal solution for current AT&T Wireless customers looking to stream on mobile devices.
The bottom line: OTT internet television services will continue to mature as new options become available. Each service comes with a standard trial offer and no long-term commitment. Some also come with excellent promotional offers such as a free or discounted Apple TV.
Which all leads us to suggest that your best bet is to try each of these service to see which one you like best. We at least hope this article has been useful in detailing the basic information about all three services. But the rest is up to you.
Do you subscribe to one of these OTT television services? If so, which one? What made you choose that one over the others available? Would you recommend your current service to others? If not, why not? Please let us know in the comments below!
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