Sports fans — the group of consumers least likely to be cord cutters — just got a new temptation to drop cable or satellite TV.
PlayStation Vue, a streaming service similar to Sling or on-demand services such as Hulu and Netflix, started service in the Twin Cities area with several popular sports offerings — Fox Sports Network, Fox Sports North and several ESPN channels.
Sports fans have been reluctant to cut the cord because streaming services and antenna-only channels don’t offer all-sports stations.
“This is a fantastic thing for sports lovers,” said John Brillhart, founder of Cable Alternatives, a Twin Cities service that helps people save money by breaking away from cable or satellite. “They can watch the Twins, Wild and Timberwolves live, but it doesn’t include the NFL Sunday Ticket package that is exclusive to DirecTV.”
Many sports fans are paying $90 or more per month for cable or satellite packages with hundreds of channels to get the handful of sports channels they want. Most TV watchers, regardless of their video preferences, only watch about 17 channels. PlayStation packages could potentially save cable and satellite consumers about $500 annually.
Sony-owned PlayStation Vue offers three packages: 55 channels for $30 a month, 70 channels for $35 and 100 channels for $45. A la carte add-ons include Showtime ($11 a month), Fox Soccer Plus ($13-15) and Showtime plus Epix hits ($12-$14). Local channels are not included in the packages. Consumers can add an antenna and get local channels free in HD over the airwaves.
Popular cable channels such as the Food Network, HGTV and Discovery are included in all three packages, but not The CW or the History Channel.
Vue subscribers will need a TV-connected device such as a PlayStation 3 or 4 console or an Amazon Fire device along with Internet access. Channels also can be accessed via mobile devices on Apple’s iOS.
Brillhart, who has been testing the new service all week, said there were some bugs. “High audience events can bog down the server to a point where it takes several seconds for channels to update when switching,” he said. And he doesn’t yet recommend Vue unless the subscriber is technologically savvy. There are lags when trying to switch menus, which he said are not very intuitive compared to a cable box.