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PlayStation Vue expands across the US with cheaper bundles — which come with a catch

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Vue is now available in more than 200 markets

Sony massively expanded the availability of PlayStation Vue today, bringing the internet-based television service to hundreds of additional markets throughout the U.S. with new, cheaper bundles of channels.

When Vue launched a year ago, the service was available only in Chicago, New York and Philadelphia. Between then and now, Vue went live in Dallas, Los Angeles, Miami and San Francisco, bringing the total up to seven major U.S. cities. With today's expansion, Vue is available in 203 additional television markets to "cover the entire U.S.," said Sony in a press release. (You can enter your ZIP code on Vue's website to see if you're covered.)

"PlayStation Vue has been an ambitious project from the start, and national expansion demonstrates our ability to innovate in an industry that's overdue for a reinvented experience," said Eric Lempel, senior vice president of marketing and head of PlayStation Network Americas at Sony Network Entertainment International. Sony said it is "working to add live local broadcast stations across all networks to each of the new TV markets."

Sony has gotten aggressive recently about Vue's pricing, starting with a $5 cut to two of the service's three tiers in November and continuing with a $10 drop for each tier earlier this month. Today, Sony introduced three additional "Slim" packages that offer fewer channels than the existing tiers, at Vue's lowest monthly prices to date: Access Slim (55-plus channels) for $29.99, Core Slim (70-plus channels) for $34.99 and Elite Slim (100-plus channels) for $44.99.

Vue's Slim bundles are available only in the 203 new markets to which Sony expanded the service today. The seven existing cities will retain the three original packages: Access (60-plus channels) for $39.99, Core (75-plus channels) for $44.99 and Elite (100-plus channels) for $54.99. As always, Sony doesn't lock you into a contract or charge equipment fees. But things get more complicated with the packages.

In addition to the differences between the channel lineups for the standard and Slim versions of the tiers, the Slim bundles come with a catch. Subscribers to a Slim package don't have access to live feeds for three of the four major broadcast networks — ABC, Fox and NBC. Instead, content from those networks is available only as on-demand programming to those customers. And if you're in one of the 203 new markets, you're stuck with the Slim packages; you can't choose to pay extra for a regular tier so you can get the live feeds for ABC, Fox and NBC. (Sony said live and on-demand content from CBS will be "added to select TV markets at a later date.")

PlayStation Vue is currently available on PlayStation 3 and PlayStation 4, as well as on the Amazon Fire TV and Fire TV Stick. The service can also be accessed through the Vue mobile app on Google Chromecast, iPad and iPhone.