UPDATE: It was pointed out to me that you must have either a PlayStation or Fire TV Stick or Box connected before you can get it to work on IOS (and probably Chromecast). All I had was a stick, which can be purchased for $39.99, in this example. My stick is older and the menus run extremely slow. I’m hearing 1st gen Fire Boxes run slow, but 2nd gen (2015) clicks pretty well. Apologies for any confusion. We are all learning as we go.
This month, PlayStation Vue streaming television service became available across the U.S. in a cheaper, slimmed down package that has no live local television, as it did in the original test cities. I refer you to the following reports and posts for background and details, as well as comparisons to Sling TV, another popular streaming service used by cord-cutters (people cutting the cord with cable TV). Each of these will have good and bad things to say, so I don’t think it’s redundant to read more than one. Read about details like, how the cloud DVR works. There’s no need for me to explain what is already written.
- Sony PlayStation Vue Review (CNET)
- Sony PlayStation Vue & Rating (PC Magazine)
- Playstation View Review (Tech Radar)
- Sling TV’s First Real Competitor…. (Cord Cutters News)
- My love affair with PlayStation Vue – a Cautionary Tale (Engadget)
- PlayStation Vue Adds Slim Packages Starting at $30 (Digital Trends)
The purpose of this post is to address whether you need a PlayStation or not. As Cord Cutters News pointed out, one of the biggest weaknesses is the name “PlayStation”. Looking through forums and other places online to see if I had to have a PlayStation just to get the service was not easy in the first few days. Sony advertised that it was available on the PS3, PS4, as well as, Amazon Fire TV box and stick, and IOS. What wasn’t clear to many is whether you had to have a PlayStation box in that mix.
I can answer definitively, that you do not need to own a PlayStation at all in order to get the full benefit of the service. But, you will be frustrated if you think you can get it all on IOS (iPhone, iPad) or Chromecast. Not everything is available on mobile, as you will find when the words “not available on mobile” appear across certain things in the IOS app. While you can’t watch it outside of your “home”, or even on a Roku or Android device, or PC and Mac, I did find ways to watch some channels on them.
I dug out an Amazon Fire TV stick I had not used in some time (long story I won’t belabor here). After reading that people were trying to set it all up through the Fire TV stick or box and running into problems, I decided to take a different route.
First, Get a PSN ID (No PlayStation Required)
I think there is confusion over what is called a PSN ID (PlayStation Network ID). Some have the mistaken belief that you can only do this through a PlayStation. That is not the case since I don’t own a PlayStation, yet have a PSN ID.
I jumped on my laptop and went to main PlayStation website. In the upper right hand corner, where it says, “sign in” I clicked that and it took me to a page that wanted login credentials. However, if you scroll down, there is an option to “create new account”. Clicking that, I was able to sign up for a PlayStation Network account. The ID is the email address used, so use a portable email address you intend to keep for a long time, as opposed to an email given to you by an Internet Service Provider (ISP) that you might lose if you change providers.
When setting up the PSN ID, you will want to attach some form of payment card – either a credit card or a prepaid card, which it does accept. I’m not sure if there are specific PlayStation cards like there are Amazon cards, so just know there are options. I’m not sure if you can skip that part. I knew I was taking the PS Vue service so I went ahead and added a card to the wallet. I did not see Paypal as an option.
Then, Sign up for Vue
After I had my account created for the PSN ID, I then went to the PlayStation Vue page and clicked, “Start Free Trial“. Once there, it will ask for your PSN ID and password (email address used earlier). You will have to decide which one you want to try for 7 days because after that trial is done, unless you cancel, you will get billed for the tier that you are trying.
I chose the Access Slim, which is the cheapest at $29.99 for 55+ recognizable cable channels. Someone (can’t find the post) posted this handy spread sheet at the Reddit page for Vue which shows what each tier offers, and the price, if you are not in one of the cities receiving local, live TV (it will ask for your zip code as you sign up).
If they add live, local TV to your service, then there is a question on whether you will need to include those and pay the higher price; or, be able to keep the slim package and keep the price you have. Case in point, I get local TV through my antenna so why pay more for local channels I already get?
One thing to note about the tiers when you choose, consider what I did. I like to watch Michigan and Michigan State football. Vue has Big Ten Network (BTN). I don’t need BTN for any other time than football season. With Vue, I can upgrade and downgrade, at will. However, when downgrading or canceling, you will get that level of Vue until your billing cycle ends. But, when you upgrade, you get it immediately and a new billing cycle begins. So, I plan to pay the extra $5 to get the second tier during football season, then go back to the lowest after.
Finally, add PlayStation Vue to Fire TV
Now that I had my PSN ID and used it to sign up for PS Vue, I installed the PlayStation Vue app on my Fire TV. Guess what it wanted: The PSN ID and password. So, I signed in accordingly and there was my free trial, in full, and without a PlayStation.
I found Vue clicks lagging very badly on the stick, which is using Wi-Fi. I don’t know if it is better if you have a Fire TV box hard-wired through Ethernet, or not. But, once it starts playing, the HD picture is crisp and pleasing to see. I had no streaming issues or buffering once it got going. For reference I have a 100 down/10 up plan with Wow for $50/month (goes up to $60 next month after a year). But, it’s the navigation that is really a problem right now. However, I’m able to dismiss that because:
- It just launched nationwide and I’m patient with glitches during such launches because they often resolve in time. I may feel differently if the problem is still there in another month or two.
- I pretty much watch a few of the same channels and once I get there it streams like a charm, but I go back to point one about wanting this fixed sooner than later.
Vue Channels on IOS, Roku, PC/Mac, and Android
You get up to five streams of Vue in a house on different devices (but not two PS3 or two PS4’s). IOS and Chromecast are also options. Roku is not among supported devices, despite it’s command of the set-top box market. However, there is a way to watch some of the channels on Roku. More on that in a minute.
On iPhones and iPads, install the PlayStation Vue app and log in with your PSN ID. Do this in the home because once outside of your home and using a different IP address, you will probably get the message that you are outside of your home network. I managed to stream some things where I work, on my lunch hour, despite this message, so I’m not sure if it’s only some channels that are blocked, and it is within the same city.
Both IOS and Chrome would not be good to have alone with Vue because of those kinds of limitations. [And, as noted at top, reportedly don’t work without a connected PS or Fire device first]. AT the least, you would want to have a Fire TV stick. A Fire TV box is better to use because it has more Ram and will run quicker, but it is more expensive too.
However, most stations that Vue has in your tier, which has a “TV Everywhere” app or “Go” access, you can install on your device and log in using “PlayStation Vue” as your TV provider. You get full privileges as if you had a cable TV provider, with Vue in this scenario. It’s in the drop down menus.
On Roku devices (unsupported by Vue), go to the streaming channels section and scroll down for “TV Everywhere”. I added Food Network easily. Upon clicking the “Live” option, it put up a code on the screen and gave me an URL to go to where the code would be added. Once I did this on my laptop, within 15-30 seconds, I had full access to Food Network TV on my Roku (I have the Fire TV stick in another room and the Roku is in my living room).
Using PlayStation Vue as TV provider is also true, if you go to any channel’s website streaming live that has this option in your package. I have a cheap Windows 8.1 computer connected to my living room TV so I can watch my own home media, and have found many ways to watch content on the web this way, in HD, such as when cable channels opened up their stream for political debates. Some channels have this; others don’t. The “Sci” channel, which is how Discovery Channel used to be, has this option, but it is limited to a handful of unfamiliar providers. However, it notes on it’s screen they are working to add more providers. Hopefully, Vue is added soon as this would give me the ability watch this in my living room without an Amazon Fire device. So, if you are on a PC, Mac, or Android device (unsupported by Vue) and want to watch Fox News Live, just go to their website and click the FoxNews Go at the top of the page and log in with PlayStation Vue as your provider.
Perhaps in time these other devices and platforms will be supported. It’s hard to believe Roku, with it’s huge market, has been left out. Hopefully, there is not an exclusivity agreement with Amazon. But, there are work arounds for some viewing.
Be Careful of Data Caps and Vue
Vue, unfortunately, has no way to limit stream quality. For those with data cap enforcement, where you might have a 250-300 GB limit, you will want to strictly monitor how much it uses. I would do a test during the trial period by logging into your ISP website and looking at your usage on your account. Then, stream it for a set time, like 2 or 3 hours, and then log back in to see how much usage there is on that day. I don’t know if it will take time for it to show up. In any event, don’t watch more than a couple hours per day until you know. And, whatever you do, don’t turn off the TV or fall asleep with Vue running or you will quickly eat up your data cap and end up with a big bill for overage.
Vue recommends having an ISP without a data cap because it’s streams are in full HD. They should have known for many that is not possible. Data caps are enforced more in markets where there is no competition. Rural people get hit the hardest this way and yet have the fewest viewing options. Sony has to provide a way to limit stream quality.
PlayStation Vue FAQ’s
There is a lot of information discussed in the FAQ’s. Read through them.