Sling TV: Updated

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Review: Updated: Sling TV

Features and FAQ

Sling TV is adding onto the multi-stream package it announced last month with a new Best of Spanish TV add-on pack.

For an extra $5 per month, Best of Spanish TV subscribers will get upcoming soccer matches from Copa America Centenario, La Liga de España, La Liga MX Clausura and MLS, movies from Cine Sony and news from Univision and UniMás, available to watch on multiple devices at once.

Imagine everything you liked about cable. You probably enjoyed surfing the channels, watching the shows people were talking about when they aired instead of months after. And, if you were lucky enough to own boxes of a certain caliber, pausing and rewinding said TV shows in real time.

Now, imagine everything you hated: the costly bill at the end of the month, the bulky, expensive equipment that marred the side of your house and living room. Not to mention the service contract that never seemed to end.

But what if you could get everything you loved about TV without any of that?

In a nutshell, that’s what Sling TV offers.

It’s live TV streaming whenever and wherever. No contracts, no equipment and no costly statement.

Sling TV? Is it the same thing as a Slingbox?

While there are some concepts borrowed from Slingbox, Sling TV is in a different league when it comes to cutting the cord.

Sling TV is a US-only service offered from DISH that allows you to watch the channels you’d typically find on basic cable for $20 a month without a contract, subscription to DISH or any pesky cable equipment on your roof or in your living room.

What devices can I use to watch it?

Create an account on DISH’s website and use that info to login to the app on iOS, Android, Amazon Fire TV and Amazon Fire TV Stick, Google’s Nexus Player, Xbox One, the new Chromecast via the Sling TV app and Roku TV. The service will also work on select LG and Samsung smart TVs, and on Macs and PCs via a website portal.

Review: Updated: Sling TV

The system is more eloquent than apps like TWC TV or Xfinity, and while the latter is almost universally available, trying to remember whose name and email you use to login can ruin a session before it even starts.

It’s also worth noting that Sling TV has partnered up with T-Mobile to offer subscribers unlimited streaming video on their T-Mobile smartphones and tablets without eating into their LTE data.

What channels are included?

So far, channels on the basic, $20-per-month plan include ESPN, ESPN2, ESPN3, TNT, TBS, HGTV, DIY Network, Food Network, Travel Channel, CNN, Cartoon Network, ABC Family, Disney Channel, AMC, IFC and, most recently, A&E, History, H2, Lifetime, Bloomberg, Polaris+ and most recently, Newsy and Flama.

If you’re looking to tack on some of the premium channels, Sling TV offers both HBO and Cinemax for $15 and $10 a month, respectively, however they require a subscription to the “Best of Live TV” package. Also new is the addition of DishWorld multi-lingual content to Sling TV.

In addition to the base subscription, seven add-on packages are available for $5 apiece each month:

Kids Extra, with Disney Jr, Disney XD, Boomerang, Duck TV, and Baby TV.Sports Extra, which includes the SEC Network, ESPNEWS, ESPNU, Universal Sports, Univision Deportes, beIN Sports, ESPN Buzzer Beater, ESPN Bases Loaded, ESPN Goal Line, Campus Insiders and Outside Television.Lifestyle extra, with Cooking Channel, DIY, truTV, WE tv, FYI, and LMN.Hollywood Extra, which includes live and video-on-demand content from EPIX, EPIX2, EPIX3, EPIX Drive-In, Sundance TV and Turner Classic Movies (TCM)World News Extra, with HLN, News 18 India, Euronews, NDTV 24×7, France24 and RT.Deportes Extra includes Azteca, beIN Español, beIN HD (English), Univison, Univision Deportes and UniMás.Películas & Novelas Extra includes Azteca Corazon, Cinelatino, De Película, De Película Clasico, Pasiones, Univision tlnovelas, Univision and UniMás.Broadcast Extra (only available in select cities) includes ABC, Univision and UniMas.Functionality

Now, remember when you asked about Slingbox? Well, it’s true, Sling TV and Slingbox share a few similarities beyond the first syllable.

Sling TV allows you to pause, rewind and fast-forward live TV on some channels (note the word “some” there), and grants you the ability to watch shows a few days after they’ve aired.

Review: Updated: Sling TV

Also similar to Slingbox, Sling TV lets you watch its service on most mobile devices anywhere in the world. That is, as long as you can establish and maintain a bitrate of about 1.5 Mbps for high-quality streams, 0.8Mbps for medium resolution, and 0.5 Mbps for low-quality.

Sling TV on Roku

TechRadar was given two platforms to test Sling TV. One was Roku (specifically on a Roku 3) and the other was iOS, which we’ll get to in a minute.

By and large, the experience on Roku was everything I’ve come to love about a cable box: simple functionality, clean layout and crisp picture. Installing the app was as easy as going to Roku channel store, finding the Sling TV app and pushing it to my Roku 3.

Coming from the home screen, Sling TV’s interface loads up In a matter of seconds. The time it takes to get from home screen to live TV is astonishing – it’s leagues faster than the time it takes my DirecTV cable box to boot up.

Once loaded, the stream was crisp and clear. (This obviously is a YMMV situation, as my home setup isn’t identical – or even necessarily in the same ballpark – as everyone else.) A quick test of my network showed I was pulling around 26Mbps over Wi-Fi, which worked fairly well at high-quality 1080p 99% of the time.

Review: Updated: Sling TV

The only stark contrast to traditional cable, at this point at least, is the amount of content available on Sling TV.

Comparatively, the 40-or-so channels offered on Sling TV are just a drop in the bucket compared to the over-800 I have available on DirecTV. And because you aren’t able to record a show like you can on TiVo, you’re limited to watching whatever’s on or whatever’s been on in the past few days.

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Sling TV on iOS

Sling TV on iOS is a vastly different experience. Not only are you trading down to a smaller screen size, but you’re also losing connection stability and clean interface of the set-top app.

Using an iPhone 5S for testing, I took Sling TV with me for a gauntlet of daily errands. As you might expect, over LTE the stream was nearly flawless. Dropping down to 3G, however, presented real problems as seconds slipped away to buffering screens.

Review: Updated: Sling TV

Problematically, when you return home, continuing what you were watching on your phone isn’t as simple as starting up your Roku. You’ll need to go into the menu, find the show you were watching and rewind it manually.

Trying to use both a phone and a Roku at the same time won’t work either. DISH is clearly (and rightfully) afraid of the account-sharing trap that has befallen HBO Go and Netflix, and doesn’t allow two devices using the same account to run the service simultaneously.

Overall, I found the iOS experience less enjoyable than the set-top app, but still impressive. Being able to take TV figuratively anywhere is an appealing, practical proposition for morning commuters or long-distance travelers.

Sling TV on Amazon Fire TV

Sling TV made a splash this week by offering a a free Fire TV Stick to new subscribers. To activate your subscription on your new device, check out Sling TV on the “featured app” section of the storefront, start the download, enter in your account info and soon you’ll have live TV on your favorite Amazon device.

The interface on Amazon Fire TV looks almost identical to the service on Roku, which is to say clean and convenient. Pressing the “list” button on Fire TV remotes brings up a channel listing while the three media control buttons do their things on playback-enabled channels.

The service looks a little clearer than it did on Roku – Sling probably set the highest visual quality as a default on Amazon devices – but it does seem to hit a few more snags. The system was stuck in buffering for such a long time at one point that it completely shutoff. Whether this was a one-time fluke or a persistent problem remains to be seen…

Review: Updated: Sling TV

Sling TV on Xbox One

When I heard Sling was shooting for five platforms in five months, I had my doubts it could keep up with the development pace. Yet here we are just two months later talking about the fourth version of the system, Xbox One.

If you’ve used the service on any of the set-top boxes so far, you’ll probably know what to expect here.

The channel interface is brought up with a flick of the stick in any direction, while the menu button (formerly known as start) opens up a menu for video-on-demand movies. Last but not least is the share button (again, formerly known as back) that brings up a menu that filters channels by category.

One major change worth noting is that Sling – unlike some apps on Xbox One – actually utilizes the Kinect to take in voice commands and allows you to pin both video-on-demand and specific channels to your home screen.

During testing I noticed a fair bit of latency (38ms compared to 30 on my tablet), which caused the service to stop and stutter multiple times. This occurred with a 4.24Mbps download speed and could be a worrying sign for potential Xbox One users.

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Overall the service looks great and is functionally stable on Xbox One, but its performance – as users have noted in the comments – will definitely vary depending on your connection speed.

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Verdict

Sling TV is a great solution for users of a certain lifestyle, like restaurant owners who only use ESPN and CNN, or cord-cutters who know exactly the channels that they like.

If you don’t fall into those groups, you’re not out of luck. The service is just starting, and with more content packs en route, your favorite set of channels may be just a few months out.

Curmudgeons, however, could easily quote Shakespeare’s famous line in Romeo and Juliet: “A rose by any other name would smell as sweet.”

We liked

At its core, there’s a lot right with Sling TV. It presents the clearest alternative to cable we’ve ever seen. Plus, when combined with a movie streaming service like Netflix, Hulu or Amazon and an HD antenna, provides a nearly complete solution.

There’s no setup, no fees, and no contract. It’s simple, just the way we like it.

Sling TV is also awesomely and incredibly convenient. Whether you’re trying to quickly catch up on a show on the go with the iOS app or bunkering down for a marathon on your PC, accessing the service isn’t a problem.

We disliked

But no matter how much I liked the service and its convenience, there are still some glaring issues Sling TV needs to fix to score my full recommendation.

DISH still hasn’t found the right balance between cost, content offered and features, like letting an additional viewer watch simultaneously or enabling every channel to offer pause, rewind and restart options.

Seriously, the lack of pause and rewind on every station, or a way to record live TV to watch later, is a bummer. And while traditional cable may have cost upwards of $70 per month, there are easily over 100 channels of content available in those services. It can be argued that a typical user only watches seven or eight in a given week but, even so, the options are always there. Sling TV users aren’t so lucky.

Verdict

Yes, DISH is offering a $20 a month, contract-free plan that can be streamed to any mobile device and most set-top boxes. But that $20 could easily turn into $30 by the time you tack on the additional two packages. Add on a few more and you’ll quickly find yourself paying the same amount you gave to the cable company before cutting the cord.

And $20 a month for 20 channels doesn’t present the same content-to-dollar ratio that a service like Netflix or Amazon Instant provides, especially when you consider that you can only have one device active at a time.

Pending a change in pricing or device limitations, though, Sling TV could finally be the straw that breaks corporate cable’s back. It’s quick, convenient and fits into your life whenever and wherever you are. One thing I won’t miss? The customer service.

Review: Updated: Sling TVSource: feedproxy.google.com

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50 thoughts on “Sling TV: Updated

  1. You get that idea based upon the number of posts and upvotes from the users dissing the service, at least I do.

  2. Please allow us not too bright people to want reasonably user friendly systems. The world is not made up of mostly bright individuals. There are some not so bright and some downright…stupid. We should be able to participate in the new tech-world without being grossly exploited. thanks.

  3. Because Jordie sounds like a troll working for Sling. I can stream Youtube, CBSSports, WatchESPN, Netflix, Movie4K or any other number of different online streaming services without getting a single error. I get errors or problems EVERY time I use Sling. And I don’t like cable either, so I’m not a cable troll.

  4. Oh, and you are not too bright. It is an astute observation. It is not name calling. Now, run to mommy and snitch on me.

  5. I will wait for the English version of your post.

  6. Or because they seem obvious. When you a lot of how cable is better you have to wonder. Also name calling is very childish.

  7. All of my friends who have tried Sling hate it. And none of us work for any kind of television company, nor are we trolls. Maybe some of these comments are troll-whatevers, but I haven’t heard anything positive about Sling from people who have actually tried it.

  8. Why do I get the idea that some of these comments are nothing more than paid cable trolls?

  9. Maybe. I just got a subscription to it and it’s working great now. I have Xfinity now too so that must help. Sling is a great value IMO.

  10. Probably a problem with internet speed? i upgraded mine and now i have no problems.

  11. Doesn’t work for shizzle on my PC. Cancelled after a few days of constant buffering problems. Great concept, but not ready for primetime IMO. If they can iron out the problems I am on board.

  12. A lot of people don’t like having a sat dish, and nearly everyone needs wireline internet from their cable or phone company, which is why satellite TV is dying. I expect this is Dish trying to transition into a new business to replace their satellite business. Assuming you don’t want to see all their employees fired when they go out of business, this seems like a healthy thing for them to do. The one stream thing is a really awkward limitation for a lot of people, but then again, a lot of cord cutters are young, single millenials for whom this should work fine. Assuming this catches on enough to survive and grow, it’s a pretty reasonable idea, so I expect they can keep working on it to make it a better product at a better price.

  13. He may need to lighten up…but he’s dead on with his comments.

  14. I actually subscribed because the wording appeared on there website like it was going to allow for multiple streams. 1 will never cut it. i opted in for the roku 3 and heard NOTHING for 2 weeks. obviously, thaey had ZERO units to mail out or are HUGELY inept at this business. THEN IT DAWNED ON ME….this IS DISH NETWORK. i flat out REFUSE to support a satellite company in the realm of streaming. They are just trying to stop the BLEEDING from their customer base ! i guarantee that this service will NEVER be cost effective as long as DISH owns and controls it. this is of course why they are able to offer what they do….they already have the contracts in place for the content all they needed to do was re-packed it and call it

  15. I was so excited to see this channel pop up on my Roku. We cut the cable several months ago. For the most part we don’t miss a thing, but streaming live TV would be nice and $25 (including the lifestyle package) seemed reasonable. But I was shocked when I discovered, within minutes of signing up for the 7 day trial, that we couldn’t stream on more than one device. We have 3 Roku devices and 4 smartphones in our household. My husband and I will be watching The Walking Dead in the living room while our kids are in their room watching Dog With A Blog. To have streaming just for 4 people would be $100 a month. I could get cable again for just a little more and have a lot more channels, DVR boxes and OnDemand, plus the app to watch on smartphones. If we just had 1 TV, it would be worth it, but we are going to cancel this before the free trial expires. Such a shame, since the picture was beautiful, the connection at home was fast and the interface was quite nice. You’d think they’d develop a way to register devices with an account and/or IP address to

  16. I tried Sling TV for a few days and cancelled it. It kept freezing and pixelating. I have Netflix, and I don’t have these problems with that. Changing channels was too slow and picture quality was awful. I pay $63/month for Dish, which gives me near 200 channels. For now, I’ll stick with Dish. Although for true HD quality, I still think over-the-air TV has everything beat, and that’s $0/month.

  17. i just subbed to sling tv mostly because they gave me 50% off the roku 43 which sells for 100+ new on amazon

  18. the time will come when internet service will be fast and free, just like radio is and antenna TV. and you’ll be able to subscribe to providers.

  19. Cord cutting isn’t about no services. You need internet to watch Netflix. Cord cutting refers to people who don’t have traditional phone or cable. Our plan works on mobile devices and we’ll have Chromecast soon. But I don’t think a modern society will ever be without internet service. Even Digis customers (wifi) have to pay for internet. Some cities are getting Google fiber, I’m told the low end basic is free. The whole tv, phone, internet business is changing. Who knows what 2020 will bring.

  20. I am using ATT but it is them or Comcast and I had comcast for about 3 weeks and their service was killing me. My whole thing is that we do not have a cable box for tv but we have a modem for the internet so my question is how do you cut the cord when you need internet?

  21. I guess I’m lucky to live where I don’t have Comcast. Haha. I used to have them, now I have fiber from a local company.

  22. Only thing is you have to have a cord for your internet so you have to use one of the providers. Until there is an internet model that does not have to go through the big ones then the cycle will continue. It is the same thing I hear when I tell some console owners that I use a keyboard an mouse to game and they look confused.

  23. We’re not after cable subscribers. Our market is cord cutters and cord nevers. $20/mo for the top network channels and customizable packages. Have kids, add the Kids package. Like sports, add the Sports extra, etc. Dish has Dish Anywhere and other cable subscribers will have or add similar features. But, that’s not our market. You can get around our 1 stream by logging into ESPN through their app or HBO through theirs. Then Mommy can watch her Game of Thrones while the kids watch Disney XD and Daddy can watch his game. A friend of mine signed up for two packages, one for her and the kids and one for her husband that works out of town for days on end. The $65 (1 base + HBO and 1 base + Sports extra) is cheaper than the $100+ they were paying for through Directv and she can load it up on her smart phone and entertain her 3 year old at the doctor’s office, etc. I use my Sling when I’m not home more than when I am. So, even with Comcast’s version, I’d never benefit from the 2 streams.

  24. But what’s funny is that Time Warner Cable has their own little

  25. Just throwing out some ideas. I absolutely could be wrong. :p

  26. Thanks! I love Sling thus far and it’s the closest thing to a la carte. I love how much I’m saving, since I only really watched five channels, anyway. $20 for those five versus the $109 I was paying DirecTV works for me any day.

  27. give me the 50 dollar package like dish has for the top120 or whatever running now, but able to stream how Sling works and i’ll be good, I live somewhere where the trees blocks all the satellites, so web streaming is perfect for me. also get Comedy central and Discovery (even if they are part of another 5 buck add-on) and you’ll have a subscriber.

  28. The Federal Government as been working with various agencies to pass laws regarding the sale of individual channels. It’s now become in the satellite/cable providers best interest to stop offering such expensive services and outrageously priced packages. Both have now been in the red for a couple years now.

  29. Full Disclosure, I work for Sling. I’m unable for multiple reasons to speak more on specifics. ESPN is a HUGE draw. But, you don’t understand DMAs, content providers or any of the other issues. (Did you know not all channels own the rights to the shows they broadcast? I didn’t…) There are reasons there are lawyers working for all the cable providers, content owners, all the way down to the studios. There is no way you’ll ever get a ala carte. Its a great idea, but reality is, it’ll never happen.

  30. That is 100% true, the content providers force the bundles (main offender is Disney’s ESPN) but that doesn’t mean that the cable/satellite/internet providers have to force those bundles onto their customers. I just read several articles where content providers insisted that cable companies choose the bundles, because they get more channels for their money. But they aren’t forced to do that and they aren’t forced to bundle those channels to their customers. So, Sling could just as easily buy the bundle then break it up into separate channels for their customers to subscribe to individually. For example, there’s more than enough customers who would purchase the sports channels to offset the cost of those who don’t want them. Or charge more for ESPN, because it’s pretty common knowledge ESPN charges the most. I mean, think about it – why do we have to pay more for NatGeo because someone else wants to pay less for ESPN? On the flip side, why should someone who wants ESPN pay for a channel THEY don’t want? HBO just went solo and is allowing people to get it a la carte. Same with CBS and NFL Network. If sports fans are willing to pay more for those, why not ESPN? Sling could still offer the deal I described above, but leave out ESPN in the original 20 choices. ESPN would be available as an a la carte add-on only. There will be more than enough sports fans buying the ESPN add-on to offset those who don’t. As far as your other comment about the networks (also agree that is true), I honestly don’t care if it’s a local NBC or CBS affiliate. Right now, I watch those channels on live streams on the web and they are from Florida, New York and Ohio – I don’t live in any of those states. That would mean Sling could possibly arrange a deal with any local affiliate to stream their broadcast or get their own network deal to be an affiliate themselves. Imagine the ad revenue if you were streaming NBC/CBS/ABC shows legally to a national audience! Companies would be falling over themselves to advertise there! (Yes, I don’t care if there are commercials if it saves me money, lol!)

  31. These companies don’t own the channels. Content providers won’t let that happen. The guy who owns all of these channels over here will never let you just pick one. He’s going to force all the broadcasters…cable, satellite, OTT, to package them. Its a great idea, but in the end, companies have their hands tied by content owners. Single stream is also a condition of content provider constraints. I’m sure once the TV industry learns the lesson of the music industry, they’ll catch up. Between this and netflix original series. The world is changing.

  32. This is how to old BUD’s (old dishes) used to be. You could get a la carte or a package. That worked great for many years, until greedy companies like Dish and DirecTV came along with their

  33. Except it never works right. Take it from someone who’s tried ot for three months.

  34. I second that emotion. SlingTV was an absolutely awful product. Live sporting events with many drops, zero customer service. Not worth it at all.

  35. My Sling TV is finally working after months of not working Thank you!

  36. Not sure why you have these issues. I have a roku stick and a roku 3 and no issues with sling at all. Love it! Maybe its the Roku 1?

  37. Do Not Buy sling TV–I have Sling TV on 2 Roku 1’s which worked well for about 2 months only then they both quit showing sling TV–The only thing that I see now is still Snap shots of the programming and with and no sound either–I show no internet connection on sling only–but Netflix, Hulu, and all the rest work perfect on my Roku’s–My Roku’s show excellent internet reception on all other programming –Roku says that it is Sling TV’s problem ,that my both of my Roku’s work perfect–Neither Roku or sling can fix my problem –So any ideals??? Oh and Sling has no problem charging me for Sling TV that does not work—-Now sling want even reply to my concerns—They just grab the money and go totally ignoring my problem!

  38. I would totally subscribe to this plan!! This is exactly what many of us want.

  39. Also, the developers are still thinking too cable/satellite-like. If they knew what we really wanted, they’d make it far more customizable. Each account would have access to any and all channels with credits that unlock them, leaving us free to pick and choose which we access. The monthly pricing structure could be: $19.99 to unlock 20 channels of your choice $14.99 to unlock 10 channels of your choice $9.99 to unlock 5 channels of your choice $2.99 to unlock 1 channel of your choice (I think it would be fair to make this one available only if you’ve bought a credit bundle.) Then you can mix and match them, such as buying a 20 credit pack and buying 1 credit or a 5 credit pack to unlock more. The more you buy the more you save. So they should bundle credits, not channels. Stop picking channels for us! Then they definitely need to figure out a way for people to prove their additional devices are within the same household, because limiting to one device is ridiculous. Even upping it to just 2 devices would make it far more appealing, since we rarely have 3people watching 3 different shows at the same time.

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