Although Sony’s PlayStation Vue is the best streaming TV bundle for the money right now, some sports fans say they’re not getting what they paid for.
For months, subscribers have complained that Fox Sports is missing the appropriate regional sports channels for their area, even though Vue promised those channels when they signed up. A thread on this issue in Sony’s PlayStation Vue forums has drawn more than 20,000 views and 500 comments since March, with new complaints continuing to pile up.
Meanwhile, Sony has added to the frustration with vague and sometimes conflicting information for customers.
”Like a bait and switch”
Daniel Daily, a Cleveland resident, signed up for PlayStation Vue last month, expecting to watch Cleveland Indians baseball on Fox SportsTime Ohio just as local cable subscribers do. But with Vue, he’s only getting Fox Sports Ohio, which carries the Cincinnati Reds.
Daily says that Fox SportsTime Ohio appeared on Sony’s channel list when he signed up for PlayStation Vue online. Now, the website only says “Fox Sports Networks.”
“That feels a little bit like a bait and switch,” he says.
So far, Daily hasn’t found a consistent explanation of what’s happening. In a customer support chat, a Vue representative told him that Fox SportsTime should be available, but that some customers “just seem to have issues receiving the network.” This conflicts with what one Reddit user heard in June, when a Vue rep blamed the issue on a lack of streaming rights.
Fox is also giving conflicting information. The company tweeted in April that Vue should carry the network, but a support representative told Daily that “we are uncertain of when full inclusion on Vue will be confirmed.”
Daily says he’s getting frustrated, especially because he thinks Vue is a great product otherwise. “I am very happy with [the service], but this issue with my Regional Fox Network would likely force me to unsubscribe after the Olympics if it persists, since it is a large reason why I bought the package in the first place,” Daily says.
These problems aren’t limited to Ohio, either. Scanning the comment thread on Sony’s Vue forums, I’ve spotted complaints from customers in St. Louis (no Fox Sports Midwest), Milwaukee (no Fox Sports North), and Dallas (no Fox Sports Southwest or Longhorn Network), among other areas. To document these trouble spots for Fox Sports channels on PlayStation Vue, I’ve put together a spreadsheet on Google Drive. (It’s open to editing, so if you’re having problems, please add to it and help out your fellow cord cutters.)
Sony’s official response, and what you can do
On Monday, I emailed a Sony spokeswoman to ask why users aren’t getting the channels they’re supposed to, why Sony’s website was advertising those channels anyway, and whether there’s any way for users to find out definitively whether a Fox Sports channel is available in their area before they sign up.
Here’s the response:
Regional Sports Network (RSN) coverage can vary by zip code, and while we currently offer these channels across most locations in the US, some may not be available in every zip code. We are actively working to bring the few remaining FOX Sports RSNs to all applicable cities and zip codes. We have received feedback from our users about how the RSN logos displayed on our website have caused confusion, and we have taken measures to ensure that users understand what sports offerings are available in their area. Additionally, there is a Compare Channels feature within the PS Vue console app, where users can go and see what networks are available in each package in their area before they sign up. If a user has any additional questions, we advise them to contact customer service.
This doesn’t explain whether the lack of availability is a rights issue or a technical one, but at least Sony acknowledges that it botched the initial communication to users.
Sony also acknowledged a possible workaround for users who have FS1 and FS2 in their subscription plans: Through the separate Fox Sports Go app, users can log in with their Vue credentials and may be able to watch their proper regional sports channels. (Fox Sports Go is available on iOS, Android, Windows, Android TV, Amazon Fire TV, and the web, with support for fourth-generation Apple TV coming later this year.)
Unfortunately, the Fox Sports Go route isn’t working for everyone, including Cleveland residents. It’s also a non-starter if you’re using a PlayStation console or Chromecast to stream video on a television, because the app isn’t supported on those devices.
The only other option is to abandon PlayStation Vue for Sling TV, whose $25 per month Sling Blue package includes the correct regional Fox Sports networks. That’s what Ohio resident C.J. Tyree did, though he’s missing the DVR functionality, TV Everywhere authentication, and channel selection he was getting with Vue.
“Disappointing that neither has it quite right and both are leaving the door open to the incoming competition,” Tyree says, alluding to new streaming bundles coming from AT&T, Hulu, and others. “It really feels like [Sony] doesn’t appreciate how many customers they are losing on the regional sports.”
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