Sony improves the Vue for cord-cutters

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A frame grab demonstrating Sony's PlayStation Vue streaming-television service. Sony announced that PlayStation Vue is getting a $10-a-month price cut and adding Disney-owned channels.

With new channels and lower prices, Sony enhanced its programming Wednesday on PlayStation Vue, a streaming TV service that offers Philadelphia TV viewers a viable alternative to cable or satellite TV.

Vue's starter Access channel lineup now includes several Disney group holdouts that were missing at the original launch last March. Among them are local ABC affiliate WPVI-6, ESPN, ESPN2, the Disney Channel and Disney Jr.

Newly reduced (by $10) to $39.99 a month, the 60+ Access channel package also boasts live streaming of our local CBS03, NBC10, MyNetwork17, FOX29 and Telemundo62 stations, not available on other "over-the-top" streaming TV services, plus channel packages from Turner (including March Madness favorites TBS and TNT), Viacom, Discovery, AMC Networks, Scripps Networks Interactive, FOX and NBC Universal.

Vue-ers need Internet service to make the connection, with a minimum download speed of 10 Mbps.

Hardware means for receiving Vue streams have likewise improved. While first available just on Sony's PlayStation 3 and 4 game systems, Apple iPads and iPhones, viewers can now "tune in" the offerings on Amazon Fire TV and Fire TV Stick and Google Chromecast devices, too.

Vue technology enables "cloud" DVR recording of shows (thousands of hours stored for 28 days) and the ability to play instant catch-up on popular programs aired in the previous three days.

Philly sports fans also will take heart from the lowered $44.99 monthly price (down from the original $54.99) for the 75+ channel Vue Core bundle, which prominently features Comcast SportsNet - which remains out of reach to DirecTV or Dish satellite subscribers.

The top Vue Elite package has been shaved to $54.99 (originally $64.99) and now boasts more than 100 channels, up from the original 70.

Month-to-month subscribers (no long term contracts) will enjoy new access to apps from Disney and ESPN Media Networks by signing in with their PlayStation Network email address and password. And coming soon to Vue, said Sony, are ESPN3, ESPN Goal Line, ESPN Buzzer Beater, ESPN Bases Loaded, Longhorn Network, ESPN Deportes and ESPN Classic.

While not sharing the subscriber count, a Sony representative said that the PlayStation Vue has experienced "strong momentum" and that the upgrades now make for "an even stronger value for consumers."

Dish Networks' higher profile Sling TV streaming service which starts at $20 a month - including ESPN and ESPN2 - now has 600,000 cord-cutting customers, Dow Jones reported last month. Just Tuesday, AT&T announced plans to launch DirecTV Now, another over-the-top service with "much of what is available on the core" satellite TV service, late this year.

takiffj@phillynews.com

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@JTakiff