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Sling TV Service Now Available In U.S., Entices Cord Cutters

Looking for an alternative to cable television? DISH Network may have what you're looking for with the launch of Sling TV. The over-the-top television service was first revealed during CES 2015 last month and has since made ripples in the cord cutting community. That's likely because the base service costs a mere $20 a month, and it does not require special equipment, set up fees, or a long term contract.

"There has been a remarkable expression of consumer interest since we first announced Sling TV one month ago," said Roger Lynch, CEO of Sling TV. "We believe Sling TV is a game-changing service that enhances the existing television landscape. Now underserved audiences have access to the best of live TV at an affordable price."

The $20 base plan consists of fifteen channels including TNT, TBS, the Food Network, ABC Family, CNN, The Disney Channel, The Travel Channel, ESPN, ESPN2, HGTV, Del Rey Network, Cartoon Network, Adult Swim, Galavision and Maker Studios.

Sling TV also provides three additional "Extra" packages for $5 per month each. Sports Extra adds nine channels to the Sling TV lineup; the News & Info Extra package adds four, and the Kids Extra adds five channels. These packages include Universal Sports, ESPNEWS, the Cooking Channel, the DIY Network, Bloomberg, Disney XD, Disney Junior, Boomerang and more.

"New movies and current shows are a big part of Sling TV. You can watch movies and shows both live and on-demand from our programming partners," the FAQ stated. "We also include an extensive movie library where consumers can rent popular new release movies and classics."

The complete Sling TV lineup costs $35 per month for customers who want every channel. What's great about Sling TV is that it works on a large number of devices such as Roku players, Roku TV units, smartphones and tablets running Android or Apple's iOS, PCs, and Mac computers. Sling TV is also slated to arrive on Amazon's Fire TV Stick and Fire TV set-top box, webOS-based HDTVs, Samsung Smart TVs, Google's Nexus Player, the Xbox One console and other streaming devices.

Although Sling TV has an interesting lineup of TV channels, it's not exactly bursting at the seams. However, consumers truly wanting to ditch cable TV could switch to over-the-air digital TV for receiving local channels and then add the Sling TV library. The drawback is that consumers will likely need to purchase Roku hardware so their tablets, smartphones and computers aren't constantly tethered to the HDTV.

So is Sling TV a good investment? That depends on the customer's viewing habits. If they don't watch a lot of TV, this would be a good alternative to a hefty cable television bill. The kids package is packed with great channels, and parents won't have to worry about the young ones stumbling over inappropriate content on TV. The ability to watch Sling TV channels on any device is also a big plus.

Consumers wanting to see what Sling TV has to offer can sign up for a free 7-day trial. They'll need a high-speed Internet connection, a 3G/4G connection for streaming on the go, and be a resident in the United States.  

Follow Kevin Parrish @exfileme. Follow us @tomshardware, on Facebook and on Google+.

  • burnley14
    Chromecast support?
    Reply
  • wiyosaya
    Being a cord cutter that dropped an $86/mo subscription to Dish Network in favor of OTA and streaming, I have no interest in paying $20+/mo to watch at most one channel from this package which would be BBC America (announced elsewhere) and only for one show, Doctor Who. Maybe, just maybe if I was able to subscribe to BBC America only for $0.99/mo would I do this. To me, this is the same tired marketing model currently employed by cable/satellite TV that has driven people to cut the cord, and I will be surprised if those who have cut the cord will go for this. It will be interesting to see how long this lasts, but I am sick of paying for stuff I do not care about, and in no way will I subscribe to this. I'll wait the year or two for the programs that I want to watch to come to Amazon, Netflix, Hulu, and my local PBS station rather than support everyone else's TV viewing by paying for channels I do not watch and could care less about.

    Personally, I think Sling is naive to think that they can employ that same, tired marketing model to a much more sophisticated audience - cord cutters. Those who do bite will likely end up paying $40/mo, then $50/mo and who knows what price at some point in the future. This is in no way different, as I see it, than current cable/satellite "deals".
    Reply
  • dstarr3
    Personally, I think Sling is naive to think that they can employ that same, tired marketing model to a much more sophisticated audience - cord cutters.

    Well, this seems a lot less extortionate than typical cable company's models. No contract or anything. If you want to drop the service, you just stop paying. You don't need any specialized, expensive hardware. And you get a whole heap more channels for much less money.

    It resembles cable companies in that you pay a monthly fee for access to the service. But honestly, how else would you do it? At least this way, much more control is put into the users hands, and it's much less expensive.
    Reply
  • vanka
    I signed up for an invite as soon as I heard about it - roughly a month ago. I got my invite about a week ago - but held off signing up as they didn't have a client for Windows at the time. Then this Saturday, I got another email that they got web sign-up working (previously you had to call in) and a Windows client was available. Sign up was quick and easy. Client is simple to use. Watched my college team play - with no problems.
    One thing annoyed me about the Windows client, the progress bar would pop up every 5-10 minutes - very distracting. Other than that - loving the service so far.
    I hear that AMC will be added to the standard package, would also love to get USA. But, not missing any other channels.
    Reply
  • wiyosaya
    15261159 said:
    Personally, I think Sling is naive to think that they can employ that same, tired marketing model to a much more sophisticated audience - cord cutters.

    Well, this seems a lot less extortionate than typical cable company's models. No contract or anything. If you want to drop the service, you just stop paying. You don't need any specialized, expensive hardware. And you get a whole heap more channels for much less money.

    It resembles cable companies in that you pay a monthly fee for access to the service. But honestly, how else would you do it? At least this way, much more control is put into the users hands, and it's much less expensive.
    And how much of this would you actually watch for $35/mo in the top end package? The way it is priced along side of Dish satellite offerings, it is not a great deal in comparison to those offerings if you are talking sheer volume of channels. Have a look at http://www.dish.com/dishdeals for a comparison - but there, of course, you have the contract - but after that contract runs out in two years, you would presumably (barring rate hikes) be paying $34.99 for 190 channels. How is this streaming service cheaper??? The way I see this, it is even more extortion based than current cable/satellite. You still have to PAY for movies with this service, and for the avid TV fan, I could see this easily becoming more expensive than cable or satellite.

    As for how would I do it? I would do it as others have begged for over the years ala-carte as I indicated in my first post. $0.99/mo per channel with no minimum on the number of channels that you can subscribe to and no minimum $ amount other than having to subscribe to one channel for $0.99/mo. Like I said, I am only interested in BBC America, and to pay them $35/mo just for that is even worse of a rate than I was paying for the five channels I watched for $86/mo.

    IMHO, people should sit down and do the math so that they can see just how much of a scam this is. I assure you, it was dreamt up by some marketing wonk trying to maximize how much money that they take from their customer's wallets, and in no way is this in the interest of the subscriber as I see it.
    Reply
  • Dan414
    "rather than support everyone else's TV viewing by paying for channels I do not watch and could care less about."

    I too am a cord cutter, and have both Amazon Prime and Netflix, and Hulu. But don't lie to yourself about supporting other peoples TV habits... unless you watch everything available on Prime, Netflix, or whatever your choice is. Unless you pay for each show individually, you're still getting "channels" you're not paying for- just at a smaller price point and without onerous contracts.

    Personally, the only thing I miss is network baseball, and until I can get that cheaply I will continue to miss it.
    Reply
  • kboard_jockey
    wiyosaya - if DrWho is the only TV you watch, then of course you have no clue why this package would sell. It's pretty obvious to anyone who watches ESPN, however. For the sports fans, cutting the cord doesn't work. Directv makes a fortune due to this reality, and every dish/cable subscriber pays over $6/month just for this network alone.
    Reply
  • gggplaya
    I just need the kids channels, so i guess that $25 a month for me.
    Reply
  • wiyosaya
    15264982 said:
    wiyosaya - if DrWho is the only TV you watch, then of course you have no clue why this package would sell. It's pretty obvious to anyone who watches ESPN, however. For the sports fans, cutting the cord doesn't work. Directv makes a fortune due to this reality, and every dish/cable subscriber pays over $6/month just for this network alone.
    Actually, I have made to choice to live without sports. I simply do not spend all that much time in front of the TV per day as does the average viewer, and I have things with which I have chosen to occupy my time that I think are far better uses of my time than watching TV.

    That said, I am an ice hockey fan. If I were to want to watch ice hockey, I would spend $99 for the season from NHL.com To me, that would be a far better deal considering the hockey season lasts something like 10 months and I would be able to watch every single NHL game every week - live, or if I missed it live, streamed.

    I understand that there is an attraction to ESPN for sports fans, but to me ESPN's offering is still a crap-shoot in that they might not have the sport you like on when you want to watch, if they do, they might not have your favorite team, etc.

    As I previously said, to me, this is simply rebundling current cable/satellite offerings at a higher price in an effort to rope-a-dope those cord cutters that have such a bloated feeling of freedom that they will not research the details of the offer and, as such, will think they are getting a better deal.

    Really, Dish's $34.99/mo package will get you at least something similar to what they are offering here and more in terms of channels, and, if I am not mistaken, you can get the Sling service, too, either free or for something like $5/mo and that will allow you to watch anything you have recorded on your DVR from anywhere you can get access to Sling's service and more.

    I was a Dish customer, Sling is nothing new, and this, at least as I see it, is nothing new; what it is is Dish's service repackaged at a higher per channel price. My guess is Dish feels that their traditional service is in jeopardy and that they are trying anything to stay in business, and that they also view this as an opportunity to spin this as a means for cord-cutters who are sports fans to get the sports they want without mentioning the fact that it costs more than their traditional service.
    Reply
  • wiyosaya
    15263119 said:
    "rather than support everyone else's TV viewing by paying for channels I do not watch and could care less about."

    I too am a cord cutter, and have both Amazon Prime and Netflix, and Hulu. But don't lie to yourself about supporting other peoples TV habits... unless you watch everything available on Prime, Netflix, or whatever your choice is. Unless you pay for each show individually, you're still getting "channels" you're not paying for- just at a smaller price point and without onerous contracts.

    Personally, the only thing I miss is network baseball, and until I can get that cheaply I will continue to miss it.
    Maybe baseball will come up with a deal that is similar to the NHL's deal.
    Reply