DIRECTV NOW vs PlayStation Vue: Comparing the Live Streaming Services

DIRECTV NOW and PlayStation Vue are two of the most popular choices for cord-cutters looking to ditch their cable package. Both are leaders in the live TV streaming industry, so if you’re torn between the two, just know that you’re not alone.

Now for the big question: which is better for watching live TV—DIRECTV NOW or PlayStation Vue?

The Overall Winner: DIRECTV NOW

Here’s the thing: both of these services will get you great live TV. Frankly, almost anything is better than being locked into an expensive cable contract month after month, so you really can’t lose.

But if we had to pick just one of these services, it’d have to be DIRECTV NOW. DIRECTV NOW packages edge out PlayStation Vue’s plans simply because DIRECTV NOW gets you more channels for a lower price. Honestly, though, these two services are so close that the best option for you will probably depend on your circumstances.

Here’s how the two services break down.

Price$35–$70/mo.*$39.99–$74.99/mo.*
Live channels available60–120+*49–90+*
Max. DVR hours20 hrs.Unlimited
Max. picture quality720p720p
Compatible devices1216
Max. simultaneous streams35
Free TrialFree Trial
Price
Live channels available
Max. DVR hours
Max. picture quality
Compatible devices
Max. simultaneous streams
$35–$70/mo.* $39.99–$74.99/mo.*
60–120+* 49–90+*
20 hrs. Unlimited
720p 720p
12 16
3 5
Free Trial Free Trial
*Not including add-ons. Additional channels and features may be available for additional fees.

As you can probably tell from the chart above, it’s really a toss-up between DIRECTV NOW and PlayStation Vue. They both let you watch TV in 720p, they’re both pretty close in terms of pricing, and they’re both compatible with Roku, Chromecast, Apple TV, and all the other most popular streaming devices.

There are some big differences between the two services, though. DIRECTV NOW offers automatic commercial skipping on recorded content—a feature no other streaming service provides. PlayStation Vue, on the other hand, allows you to record an unlimited number of shows while DIRECTV NOW maxes out at 20 hours of storage. And while PlayStation Vue channels don’t seem too impressive in terms of numbers, the service tends to group the most widely requested channels together in the lower-tier (and less expensive) packages. Translation: you may not get as many channels with PlayStation Vue, but you’re more likely to get the ones you want without having to upgrade your plan.

In the end, though, we chose DIRECTV NOW as our overall winner. DIRECTV NOW offers more channels for a lower cost per month, so it’s more likely to be a good fit for cord-cutters looking to save on their home entertainment. It’s just basic math.

Prices and plans: DIRECTV NOW vs. PlayStation Vue

DIRECTV NOW packages

PackagesChannel countPrice
Live a Little60+$35/mo.
Just Right80+$50/mo.
Go Big100+$60/mo.
Gotta Have It120+$70/mo.
Channel count Price
60+ $35/mo.
80+ $50/mo.
100+ $60/mo.
120+ $70/mo.

PlayStation Vue packages

PackagesChannel countPrice
Access49+$39.99/mo.
Core65+$44.99/mo.
Elite88+$54.99/mo.
Ultra90+$74.99/mo.
Packages
Channel count Price
49+ $39.99/mo.
65+ $44.99/mo.
88+ $54.99/mo.
90+ $74.99/mo.

Winner: DIRECTV NOW

We feel pretty good about declaring DIRECTV NOW the winner in this category. DIRECTV NOW packages not only start at just $35 per month but also are cheaper than PlayStation Vue at nearly every package level. Plus, DIRECTV NOW plans include more live TV channels than PlayStation Vue, making the service a good bet for anyone looking to replace their cable provider.

Now that being said, PlayStation Vue does come pretty close to DIRECTV NOW in terms of pricing. The real question is, is PlayStation Vue worth it?

Honestly, it depends. If streaming quality is a high priority for you, PlayStation Vue may very well be worth the extra cash just so you can have fewer glitches and shorter loading times when you watch MSNBC, Fox Sports, or whatever other content you’re into. But if you’re looking for a lower-cost cable alternative, there’s no doubt that DIRECTV NOW is the better pick of these two services.

FYI: If you want more information about these services, you can always check out our PlayStation Vue and DIRECTV NOW reviews. We break down the DIRECTV NOW packages, provide detailed channel information for each of the PlayStation Vue plans currently on offer, and even tell you how each service stacks up against other competitors like Sling TV. You’re welcome.

Do DIRECTV NOW and PlayStation Vue offer any deals?

Live TV streaming services understand that most of their users are switching from cable, so they may be short a couple of pieces of equipment. Fortunately, DIRECTV NOW offers a number of deals to help you get DVRing and livestreaming your favorite TV channels in no time.

The bad news? PlayStation Vue doesn’t offer any deals at this time. We’ll keep an eye out for you if anything changes, though.

DIRECTV NOW & Roku Streaming Stick Deal

Channels: DIRECTV NOW vs. PlayStation Vue

Included channels135+90+
Total channels (with add-ons)139+113+
Included channels
Total channels (with add-ons)
135+ 90+
139+ 113+

Winner: DIRECTV NOW

The math here is clearly in favor of DIRECTV NOW. PlayStation Vue packages just don’t offer as many channels as DIRECTV NOW plans. The service also doesn’t offer some basic channels that are included in the DIRECTV NOW channel list (like the Weather Channel). Plus, as we already mentioned, DIRECTV NOW is cheaper, so you can watch your favorite shows on TLC and FX for less than you’d pay with PS Vue.

Which is better for watching sports channels?

There is a big caveat here, though. The PlayStation Vue channels included with PS Vue packages tend to be better for sports fans. In fact, PlayStation Vue’s Core package costs about $5 less per month than its comparable DIRECTV NOW package, and it features more of the channels sports fans care about, including the NFL Network, NBA TV, and the MLB Network. So if you’re a sports fan, PlayStation Vue could very well be the best choice for you.

DIRECTV NOW’s channel list is more limited in terms of sports offerings, and it costs more. See for yourself how the two services’ sports channels stack up:

PlayStation Vue Core package: $44.99/mo.

  • ABC
  • Big Ten Network
  • CBS
  • CBS Sports Network
  • Eleven Sports
  • ESPN
  • ESPN2
  • ESPN3 (online)
  • ESPNEWS
  • ESPNU
  • FOX
  • FOX regional sports networks
  • FOX Sports 1
  • FOX Sports 2
  • Golf Channel
  • MLB Network
  • NBA TV
  • NBC
  • NBC Sports Network (NBCSN)
  • NFL Network
  • Olympic Channel
  • SEC Network
  • TBS
  • TNT
  • USA Network

PlayStation Vue Sports Pack: $10/mo. add-on

  • ESPN Bases Loaded
  • ESPN Classic
  • ESPN Goal Line
  • Fox College Sports Atlantic
  • Fox College Sports Central
  • Fox College Sports Pacific
  • Longhorn Network
  • MLB Bases Loaded
  • MLB Strike Zone
  • NBC Regional Sports Networks
  • NESN
  • NFL RedZone
  • Outside Television

DIRECTV NOW Go Big package: $60/mo.

  • ABC
  • Big Ten Network
  • CBS
  • CBS Sports Network
  • ESPN
  • ESPN2
  • ESPN3 (online)
  • ESPNEWS
  • ESPNU
  • FOX
  • FOX regional sports networks
  • FOX Sports 1
  • FOX Sports 2
  • Golf Channel
  • MLB Network
  • NBA TV
  • NBC
  • NBC regional sports networks
  • NBC Sports Network (NBCSN)
  • NHL Network
  • Olympic Channel
  • SEC Network
  • Sportsman Channel
  • TBS
  • Tennis Channel
  • TNT
  • USA Network

As you can see, PlayStation Vue not only offers more sports channels than DIRECTV NOW but also charges less for them. In fact, PS Vue customers can get both the Access package and the Sports Pack for an extra $10 per month and still pay less than DIRECTV NOW customers, who’d need to get the $60-per-month Go Big plan to get even close to the number of the sports channels PS Vue offers.

That being said, there are still some advantages DIRECTV NOW offers and PlayStation Vue doesn’t. For one, DIRECTV NOW has the Tennis Channel and the NHL Network. So if you want to catch every St. Louis Blues game, DIRECTV NOW might be the better fit.

What channels are on PlayStation Vue? What channels are on DIRECTV NOW?

If you want more details about the total number of live channels offered by each service (and how much they cost per month), we’d recommend checking out our DIRECTV NOW review and PlayStation Vue review. We go into detail about which PlayStation Vue channels are included in which package and give you the complete DIRECTV NOW channel list.

Local channels: DIRECTV NOW vs. PlayStation Vue

ABC64 local affiliates34 local affiliates
CBS38 local affiliates119 local affiliates
FOX70 local affiliates31 local affiliates
NBC46 local affiliates39 local affiliates
Total218 local affiliates223 local affiliates
Total
64 local affiliates 34 local affiliates
38 local affiliates 119 local affiliates
70 local affiliates 31 local affiliates
46 local affiliates 39 local affiliates
218 local affiliates 223 local affiliates

Winner: DIRECTV NOW

Streaming services are supposed to help you save money, so they generally offer fewer local channels in order to keep costs low. But some streaming services are better than others at providing local channels while also keeping your service affordable.

As you can see above, both DIRECTV NOW and PlayStation Vue offer a lot of local channels. Technically, PlayStation Vue offers more, but the breakdown shows that most of PlayStation Vue’s local offerings are CBS channels. That’s great if you’re a big fan of The Late Late Show, but it’s not so great if you’re more of a This Is Us fan.

We wound up giving this category to DIRECTV NOW because it’s better than PlayStation Vue at offering a well-rounded selection of local networks. Plus, DIRECTV NOW is able to deliver roughly the same number of local stations for $5 less per month. Score!

P.S. Be sure to check out the local stations DIRECTV NOW and PS Vue offer in your specific area before signing up for either one. If PlayStation Vue offers more of the local channels you care about, it could wind up being the best option for you.

Dead set on getting your local channels?

Not getting the local channels you need from either DIRECTV NOW or PlayStation Vue? Don’t worry—there is another option. With a digital antenna, you can watch local channel broadcasts without paying a monthly fee. The only downside is there’s no DVR. To find out more, check out the current offerings on Amazon.

Another option for watching local networks

FYI, if you want to watch ABC, CBS, FOX, and NBC shows but don’t care about watching them live, both DIRECTV NOW and PlayStation Vue offer on-demand options from all the major networks. That means you can watch the latest Modern Family episodes the day after they air. Or you can always use your DIRECTV NOW or PlayStation Vue login to access on-demand shows via TV Everywhere apps on your Roku, Apple TV, Chromecast, and other devices.

Best DVR: DIRECTV NOW vs. PlayStation Vue

Included with package20 hrs.Unlimited (28 days)
Included with package
20 hrs. Unlimited (28 days)

Winner: PlayStation Vue

Pretty much every streaming service offers a DVR, but some are better than others at giving users the space and recording features they want. Just take PlayStation Vue and DIRECTV NOW.

DIRECTV NOW packages include only 20 hours of cloud DVR storage. That’s less than a full season of DIY’s Restored. So while it’s nice to have some amount of storage, it isn’t very much.

PlayStation Vue, on the other hand, offers unlimited cloud DVR storage, so you can record pretty much anything and everything you want. The only thing you have to worry about is PS Vue’s 28-day limit—anything you record will automatically be deleted after 28 days. So if you’re a heavy binge-watcher or like to record and save your shows for months at a time, you may want to go with DIRECTV NOW.

On the whole, we think PlayStation Vue’s DVR comes out on top simply because it lets you record more than DIRECTV NOW. We should mention, though, that DIRECTV NOW’s DVR is equipped with automatic commercial skipping. That’s unique among streaming services, as PS Vue and other providers make you fast-forward through commercials manually when watching recorded shows. So if you use a DVR solely to skip commercials, DIRECTV NOW may be the way to go.

Premium channels: DIRECTV NOW vs. PlayStation Vue

HBO$5/mo.$15/mo.*
CINEMAX$5/mo.$15/mo.
EPIX$3.99/mo.*♱
Fox Soccer Plus$14.99/mo.♱
SHOWTIME$8/mo.$10.99/mo.*
STARZ$8/mo.
HBO
CINEMAX
EPIX
Fox Soccer Plus
SHOWTIME
STARZ
$5/mo. $15/mo.*
$5/mo. $15/mo.
$3.99/mo.*♱
$14.99/mo.♱
$8/mo. $10.99/mo.*
$8/mo.
* Free with Ultra package.
♱ Discounts available for PS Plus subscribers

Winner: DIRECTV NOW

PS Vue and DIRECTV NOW each offers access to four premium networks, but the cost of each channel varies depending on the streaming service you choose.

In general, we think cord-cutters looking for premium channel access are going to be happier with DIRECTV NOW. DIRECTV NOW charges considerably less for premium channels than PlayStation Vue (and cable for that matter). That makes it a lot easier for Game of Thrones fans to catch every new episode live without burning major holes in their wallets.

Here’s the catch: PlayStation Vue and DIRECTV NOW each offer one channel that the other doesn’t. So if you’ve got to have EPIX and don’t really care about STARZ, PlayStation Vue is clearly the best choice for you.

Streaming quality: DIRECTV NOW vs. PlayStation Vue

Picture resolution720p720p
Streaming quality (our rating)3/55/5
Picture resolution
Streaming quality (our rating)
720p 720p
3/5 5/5

Winner: PlayStation Vue

If you’ve ever tried to watch a YouTube video and sat through 10 minutes of loading screen, you have an idea of what it’s like to use a TV streaming service that doesn’t offer good streaming quality.

Unlike cable, streaming services are delivered via your internet connection, so they’re subject to lagging, glitching, and loading issues. The best streaming services compensate by maximizing their efficiency—essentially making sure their services can operate as quickly and cleanly as possible while using as little bandwidth as possible.

PlayStation Vue is better at this than DIRECTV NOW. In general, we’ve found PlayStation Vue’s streams are pretty smooth and glitch-free, even if you’re using a slower internet connection. That means you won’t have to deal with your picture cutting out or going blurry while you’re watching your favorite History Channel show or (heaven forbid) a big game.

But what about DIRECTV NOW’s streaming quality? Honestly, it depends on your internet speed. Our tests show that DIRECTV NOW is pretty comparable to PlayStation Vue if you’re using a fast internet connection. But if you’re on a lower-speed plan, DIRECTV NOW is more prone to glitching, buffering, and long load times.

This one goes to PlayStation Vue simply because consistency is everything, especially when it comes to streaming.

Not sure if your internet connection is right for streaming?

We can help you out. Check out this guide to the best internet providers for streaming. We give you the inside scoop on how your internet connection can influence your streaming experience and which providers make cord-cutting a smooth and easy experience.

Compatible devices: DIRECTV NOW vs. PlayStation Vue

Amazon Fire TV
Amazon Fire tablet
Android phones
Android tablets
Android TV
Apple TV
ChannelMaster DVR+
Chromecast
iPad
iPhone
iPod Touch
LeEco
LG TV Smart TVs (select models)
Mac computers
Nintendo Switch
PlayStation 3
PlayStation 4
Roku
Roku TV
Samsung Smart TVs (select models)
Sharp AQUOS
Sony Bravia
Vizio SmartCast TV
Windows computers
Windows 10 phones
Xbox 360
Xbox One
Xbox One S
Xbox One X
Amazon Fire TV
Amazon Fire tablet
Android phones
Android tablets
Android TV
Apple TV
ChannelMaster DVR+
Chromecast
iPad
iPhone
iPod Touch
LeEco
LG TV Smart TVs (select models)
Mac computers
Nintendo Switch
PlayStation 3
PlayStation 4
Roku
Roku TV
Samsung Smart TVs (select models)
Sharp AQUOS
Sony Bravia
Vizio SmartCast TV
Windows computers
Windows 10 phones
Xbox 360
Xbox One
Xbox One S
Xbox One X

Winner: PlayStation Vue

When it comes to devices, PlayStation Vue is the clear winner. While both DIRECTV NOW and PS Vue are available on Apple TV, Chromecast, Android TV, and Roku devices, PlayStation Vue is also compatible on Amazon Fire tablets, Android TVs, and PlayStation consoles.

In fact, PlayStation Vue is the only streaming service available on PlayStation consoles, so it’s the clear choice for cord-cutting gamers who don’t want to buy a new device.

Can I use PlayStation Vue without a PlayStation?

Absolutely. PlayStation Vue is compatible with all major streaming devices, including Chromecast, Roku, Apple TV, Android TV, iOS products, and mobile Android devices.

But if you do plan on streaming TV from your PlayStation console, PlayStation Vue is pretty much your only option. The good news is select add-ons and premium channels cost less per month if you have a PS Plus account. Score one for the gamers.

Which streaming device is right for you?

Honestly, it depends on your household. Most services offer support for Roku, Apple TV, Android, and Chromecast, but the right device will depend on which mobile device you use, the picture quality you want, and how much you want to pay. Check out our guide to the best streaming devices or our streaming device reviews to learn more.

User experience: DIRECTV NOW vs. PlayStation Vue

Channel guide
Live playback features
Commercial skipping
Max. simultaneous streams35
Usability (our ranking)4/54/5
Channel guide
Live playback features
Commercial skipping
Max. simultaneous streams
Usability (our ranking)
3 5
4/5 4/5

Winner: PlayStation Vue

When it comes to user experience, these services are pretty close. So what does PS Vue offer that DIRECTV NOW doesn’t and vice versa? Let’s dive in.

Channel guide

Both DIRECTV NOW and PlayStation Vue offer channel guides, but they’re slightly different.

playstation vue channel guide
PlayStation Vue channel guide on a desktop computer.

With PlayStation Vue, you get a complete guide that shows what’s currently airing live and what’s coming up. But the guide shows PlayStation Vue channels along the top, with times displayed along the side. Years of using cable have conditioned most of us to expect channels displayed on the left and times along the top, so PlayStation Vue’s guide is a bit backwards for most users. Still, it’s not a dealbreaker—at least for most cord-cutters. It just takes some getting used to.

directv now channel guide
DIRECTV NOW’s channel guide on a desktop computer.

DIRECTV NOW’s channel guide is a bit more familiar, with sports networks and other channels shown on the left and times at the top. Because it’s more similar to what you’d get with a cable package, it tends to be more user friendly than PlayStation Vue’s guide.

Ultimately, both services let you compare what’s on now and what’s coming up, and both services’ guides are roughly the same on all devices, so you get the same experience whether you’re using a Roku, Apple TV, or laptop. But in general, we like DIRECTV NOW’s guide a bit better because it has less of a learning curve.

That makes 1-0, DIRECTV NOW.

Playback features and commercial skipping

Both DIRECTV NOW and PlayStation Vue offer limited playback options on live TV. If you tune into a livestream midway through a show, both services give you the option to start the show over. And while neither service lets you fast-forward or rewind while watching live TV, you can pause your show on select channels and programming. Translation: no commercial skipping on live TV.

On-demand shows are pretty much the same, with built-in commercial breaks that you can’t skip, though you can pause, fast-forward, and rewind through the show itself.

Finally, both services offer the same DVR features. You can pause, rewind, and fast-forward, even through commercial breaks. That makes it a whole lot easier to watch your favorite 25 Days of Christmas movies without having to sit through corny fast food commercials.

Both DIRECTV NOW and PlayStation Vue offer pretty much the same playback and commercial skipping options, so our decision here came down to the wire. In the end, though, PlayStation Vue lets you pause your livestream for longer than DIRECTV NOW, so that’s one point for PlayStation Vue.

Interface

DIRECTV NOW does have a slightly more user-friendly channel guide than PlayStation Vue, but getting to that guide is a bit of a maze. In general, DIRECTV NOW’s layout is okay, but not quite as intuitive as PlayStation Vue’s. PlayStation Vue’s interface is pretty simple and easy to understand, so first-time cable-cutters may find it a bit easier to use, even if the guide takes some getting used to.

It’s important to note, though, that interface for each of these services is a bit different depending on the device you use. So the layout for the DIRECTV NOW app may look one way on your Roku but be different on your Apple TV. All DIRECTV NOW packages and Access, Core, and Elite plans on PlayStation Vue come with a free trial period, so you can always take your new service for a test spin to make sure it works on your device before paying any monthly dues.

Overall, we’re calling this one for PlayStation Vue for being just a touch easier to navigate.

Simultaneous streams

PlayStation Vue is the clear winner here.

DIRECTV NOW allows you to watch on only three devices at a time, while PlayStation Vue allows you to stream on five devices simultaneously—at no extra cost (unlike some streaming services). That means you can watch PlayStation Vue on your living room TV while each of your four kids streams their favorite cartoon on their tablets elsewhere. That makes PlayStation Vue a great cord-cutting solution for larger households.

Point PlayStation Vue.

DIRECTV NOW is victorious

As you can see, DIRECTV NOW and PlayStation Vue each won four categories out of eight. But this is DIRECTV NOW vs. PlayStation Vue, and there can be no tie.

Our tiebreaker came down to price per channel. Most cord-cutters looking for a streaming TV service want the most live channels they can get for the lowest price per month. And DIRECTV NOW not only costs less per month than PlayStation Vue but also features more live TV channels.

But . . . the best choice for you may still be PlayStation Vue, particularly if you’re willing to pay a few dollars more per month for a more reliable streaming experience. Just something to think about.

Keep in mind, we’ve only just grazed the surface of all our research into DIRECTV NOW and PlayStation Vue. Be sure to stop by our PlayStation Vue review and DIRECTV NOW review to get all the information you need on their respective packages, plans, channel counts, and more.

Other frequently asked questions about PlayStation Vue and DIRECTV NOW

Can you get Pay Per View on PlayStation Vue or DIRECTV NOW?

Unfortunately, no—pay-per-view events are not as easily accessible on streaming services as they are on cable.

Right now, you can’t get PPV on either DIRECTV NOW or PlayStation Vue (though it’s rumored that DIRECTV NOW is working on it). But that doesn’t mean PPV events are completely inaccessible for cord-cutters. The UFC, HBO, SHOWTIME, and WWE apps typically offer livestreaming options for pay-per-view events, so you can usually purchase and watch them there.

Does PlayStation Vue have 4K content? How about DIRECTV NOW?

Neither of them has 4K content right now.

Remember 10 years ago when HD was starting to gain steam? There were HDTVs, Blu-Ray players, and movies, but TV channels were still broadcasting in standard definition. That’s basically where we are with 4K right now. We have 4K Rokus, Apple TVs, and smart TVs, and we can watch 4K movies, but TV channels just aren’t making and broadcasting their content in 4K.

Consequently, TV streaming services don’t really need to offer 4K compatibility—they’d have no 4K content to actually deliver because it just isn’t being made right now.

Do I need a satellite dish for DIRECTV NOW or PlayStation Vue?

Nope. Unlike cable services, streaming services deliver live TV via your internet connection, so you don’t need additional hardware in order to pick up channels. There are no installation fees, monthly hardware rental fees, or bulky dishes to worry about.

In fact, you get to choose which devices are right for you. Roku, Chromecast, iOS devices, Android devices—they’re all compatible with both DIRECTV NOW and PlayStation Vue. All you have to do is connect them to your TV and start watching.

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Courtenay Stevens

Courtenay has been a professional writer for nearly 7 years. She loves that she can now help people cut the cord by merging her affinity for writing with her passion for watching TV, talking about movies, and keeping up with her various fantasy sports teams.
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