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Media Streamers

PlayStation Vue to add ESPN, ABC, Disney channels to streaming TV lineup

Sony's PlayStation-based subscription service, available in seven US cities, will soon include ESPN, Disney and ABC local channels, complete with cloud DVR controls, on-demand offerings and simultaneous streaming.

Sarah Tew/CNET

The most feature-rich Internet TV provider just filled the biggest hole in its channel lineup.

Sony's PlayStation Vue subscription service, which competes against cable TV with live and on-demand TV streamed over the Internet, will soon include a variety of Disney-owned channels like ESPN, The Disney Channel and the local ABC affiliate.

The new channels, 18 in all, represent the largest missing link in Vue's offerings compared to traditional cable and satellite. Sony's base package already offers most other major channels, including local NBC, Fox and CBS affiliates and cable channels like Comedy Central, Bravo, Fox News and FX.

Vue is currently available in New York, Los Angeles, Chicago, Philadelphia, Dallas, San Francisco and Miami. Starting at $50 per month, it's significantly more expensive than direct competitor Sling TV, which starts at $20 per month and is available nationwide.

How the new channels will affect Vue's pricing structure, and when they'll be available, was not announced.

PlayStation Vue and Sling TV are the two most prominent alternative live TV services in the US today, competing directly against traditional cable and satellite TV providers. Instead of requiring a cable box, they stream over your Internet connection to a compatible device. Neither requires a contract, allowing you to cancel and restart your service at any time.

Vue is currently compatible with PlayStation 3 and PlayStation 4 game consoles as well as Apple iPads and iPhones through the PlayStation Vue mobile app. There's no app for Apple TV, and you can't use AirPlay to send video to your TV, so currently the only way to watch Vue on the big screen is with a PlayStation console.

Compared with traditional cable/Internet bundles it offers fewer channels, in particular regional sports, and won't necessarily save you much money. It does have similar features though, with full DVR functions including pause, rewind and fast-forward on all channels, the ability to "record" shows to watch later (they expire after 28 days), and an innovative guide that focuses more on individual shows than channels. It also allows you to watch on more than one device at the same time.

Sling TV works with numerous devices, including phones and tablets (both Apple and Android), computers, Roku , Amazon Fire TV and more (again there's no app for Apple TV, but with Sling you can use AirPlay Mirroring). It's more restricted than Vue however, with fewer channels, almost no DVR options (most channels won't even let you pause), and only one active device permitted at a time. It also allows more choice in channel selection, with $5/month add-on bundles.

For a complete comparison, check out PlayStation Vue vs. Sling TV: Streaming live TV compared.

Waiting in the wings is Apple's TV service, rumored to arrive sometime in 2016 starting at $40 per month, with a wide range of channels including local affiliates, similar to Vue. Nothing about that service has been confirmed, however.

Here are all of the new channels coming to Vue: ABC local affiliate, ABC Family (becoming Freeform in January), Disney Channel, Disney Junior, Disney XD, ESPN, ESPN2, ESPN College Extra, ESPNU, ESPNEWS, ESPN Deportes, ESPN Classic, ESPN Goal Line, ESPN Buzzer Beater, ESPN Bases Loaded, Fusion, Longhorn Network, SEC-ESPN Network. Combined with the largest package, that brings Vue's total up to about 110 channels -- a cable-like selection indeed.