Sling TV – An Interesting Glimpse at Where Online Viewing Is Headed

Sling TV is a $20 streaming video service presently viewable on Roku, iOS, Android, Mac, or PC.  Sling TV provides mostly live viewing of:  ESPN, TNT, TBS, Food Network, HGTV, Adult Swim, Cartoon Network, and others. For many people it may be just the service that allows them to cut their cable cord for good.

However I think most people should wait to see what other channels Sling may add before joining.

Sling TV - An Interesting Glimpse at Where Online Viewing Is Headed

Sling TV is available under a 7 day free trial (credit card required). After the 7 days, you’ll be charged a recurring monthly fee that covers the Best of Live TV.

Sling TV - An Interesting Glimpse at Where Online Viewing Is Headed

For an additional $5 monthly you can add Sports Extra – a bundle of additional sports channels.

Sling TV - An Interesting Glimpse at Where Online Viewing Is Headed

There are news and kids channel packages too. Each of these are available for another $5 per month each. Anyone starting to feel like this is the same  Cable TV model priced more affordably?

Sling TV - An Interesting Glimpse at Where Online Viewing Is Headed

I’ve been testing Sling on my iPhone 6+ using their free 7 day trial. There’s a lot to like with this service. And some things that need to be improved before I am tempted to heap another recurring monthly $20 charge onto my credit card.

First, the good:

Viewing quality of Sling is very good. I tested primarily on my home WiFi (150 mb) as well as the office (10 mb) and both were consistently clear pictures – which to my eyes appeared as good as HD television quality. During my viewing time I  had no stuttering or refreshing of the video or audio.

The interface of Sling is easy to navigate. No training required here.

To view channels you swipe the screen left and right. Each subscribed channel will appear along with a description of the programming presently available for viewing.

I was not able to find a way to subscribe to any of the additional programming packages via the Sling app. Adding new channel packages appears to be something you must do online – which is good news for parents who may provide the Sling app to kids to view and who don’t want to worry that junior suddenly upgrades the Sling channel subscriptions.

Sling TV - An Interesting Glimpse at Where Online Viewing Is Headed

Technically the Sling service is impressive. Easy-to-use interface. High quality video.

Now the downside to Sling – at least for my viewing habits:

First, I don’t care about sports. So Sling’s inclusion of ESPN and ESPN2 – which is highly desired for most cord cutters – has no attraction.

Second, the major broadcast networks are missing – ABC, CBS, NBC, FOX. This is often not a big deal since many cord cutters use antenna to grab signals off the air. However an antenna connected to a TV doesn’t help when you are away from home and want to watch a network show. For me this is the biggest downfall to Sling.

Third, Sling is really only attractive for people who have no other access to a cable tv login. For example my stepfather subscribes to Cox Cable and by sharing his login I can view CNN and HLN and ESPN since these sites already have mobile apps which only require  I provide a login/password to a cable service to prove that I’m a subscriber (or know someone who is willing to share).

Lastly (for now), Sling is really just re-packaged cable TV with fewer channels and a cheaper price. The monthly recurring fee is not unreasonable but users will eventually reach “monthly recurring fee fatigue”. Many cord cutters already subscribe to Netflix  ($7.99/mo) and Hulu ($7.99/mo). Subscribing to all of the Sling packages would cost $35/mo. Add in the $16 for Netflix and Hulu and , well, now you have a $51 monthly recurring bill that looks an awful lot like what you were paying for that cable TV service you just cancelled.

Greater choice in picking shows  you want to watch and when you want to watch them is clearly the future. The repackaging of cable TV bundles into mobile internet viewable apps is already well underway with most cable systems offering remote viewing at no added monthly fee (ex xfinity TV Go). The success of competitors such as Sling TV is less certain in my view though the technology  that they introduce will likely pave the way for cheaper cable that you are able to view anywhere at any time.


About the Author

Wayne Schulz

Wayne is a diehard Android user and consultant specializing in Sage 100 ERP Accounting Software. He lives in Glastonbury CT with his two children. When not helping them with their homework or pushing the latest school fundraiser off on his co-workers, he is active hiking and investigating all manner of technology.