And by adding just one more device, we may have the Complete Solution we have been waiting for
The one topic the cord cutting community cannot stop talking about is Sling TV. An over-the-top service produced by Dish Network that offers 24 live television channels (and growing) for $20 a month; with the option of adding on additional channel packages for $5 each. Launched February 9th 2015.
Sling TV is an almost perfect Cable TV Alternative. By just adding one or two more devices / services, there is no doubt that you can successfully rid yourself of that expensive cable TV bill, while retaining the shows and sporting events that you love.
To many, this is the service that cord cutters have been waiting for; a cable TV alternative that makes companies like Comcast obsolete.
But is it really?
Don’t get me wrong, I think Sling TV is amazing, and it will definitely help change the way we view television; but I don’t think Sling represent the end all cable TV alternative we’ve all been waiting for. But with one or two companion devices – it could be. Allow me to explain.
What is a Complete Cable TV Alternative?
So in order for a service to be called a complete cable TV alternative, it has to have the following features:
- The ability to stream television online (Could be in the works. Read about the anoymous tip a fellow blogger got here)
- It has to be contract-free
- It has to be inexpensive
- You have to be able to use it on multiple devices at once (Check this one off the list. Learn more about Sling TV’s new Multi-Stream)
- It has to support over-the-air television (i.e. broadcast networks like ABC, NBC, or CBS)
So how does Dish‘s new product match up against this definition? Let’s take a look.
Let’s take a look…
Sling TV offers 12 live television channels in a package called “The Best of Live TV” for $20 a month. There are no contracts and you pay it month to month. The channels included are as followed: A&E, History, H2, Lifetime, AMC, IFC, ESPN, ESPN2, TNT, TBS, Food Network, HGTV, Travel Channel, Adult Swim, Cartoon Network, Disney Channel, CNN, El Rey, Polaris, and Galavision.
For an extra $5, you can have one of the following add-on packages:
- Kids Extra: Disney Junior, Disney XD, Boomerang, Baby TV, and Duck TV.
- News & Info Extra: HLN, Cooking Channel, DIY and Bloomberg TV.
- Sports Extra: SEC Network, ESPNU, ESPNEWS, ESPN Buzzer Beater, ESPN Goal Line, ESPN Bases Loaded, Univision Deportes,
Universal Sports, and beIN Sports
- Lifestyle Extra: truTV, Cooking Channel, DIY and WE tv, with FYI and LMN coming soon
- World News Extra: Bloomberg TV, HLN, Euro News, France 24 and more
For an extra $15 a month you can even get HBO.
In terms of low-cost commitment free television entertainment, it is hard to beat. They have a great selection; and for the person who doesn’t want to shell out a fortune for a couple channels, it’s a life saver. As far as meeting the definition of a cable TV alternative, things are looking pretty good for Sling TV.
**** Looking for ways to Watch March Madness Online? Click here
However, this is also where we start running into some problems.
Sling TV on Multiple Devices
At $20 a month, Sling is not the cheapest over-the-top service, but it’s still pretty good for the amount of content it offers. One issue I foresee is that you can only use it on one device at a time, per account.
*** As of 04.21.16 – This is no longer an issue. Their new Multi-Stream service allows for up to 3 devices at at time. But there is a catch…)
That means if you don’t want to watch Anderson Cooper 360 but your spouse does; well tough nuts for you because you can’t go into another room and watch something else. This is the complete opposite of the Netflix model, where they actively encourage you to share your account with loved ones; and to be honest, at this point account sharing is a feature most cord cutters have come to expect.
But it doesn’t stop there. Go back and look at the channels that Sling TV offers. Do you notice anything missing?
Sling TV is missing the single most important element of the cord cutting experience, which is over-the-air television. OTA television is really easy to overlook until you realize that most of your favorite television shows are on the major broadcast networks. If you Google “Most popular television shows 2014” you will notice, with few exceptions, that the most popular shows last year were all on network television.
Not to mention the fact that without OTA support, you’ll miss out on all the sporting events that air OTA. That means no NFL, no World Series, etc… ESPN is great to have, but if you’re missing out on some of the most basic of sports programming to have it; what’s the point?
OTA television is free for anyone that has an OTA antenna, so it is incredibly perplexing why they don’t offer the broadcast networks; especially when you consider the fact that Dish Network should have the rights to carry those networks.
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Sling TV Devices
Whether you love Amazon Fire TV, Roku, iOS, Apple TV, Android, Mac, Xbox One, or PC, Sling TV is pretty much everywhere! Here are some of the promotional offers we have seen pop up in the last few weeks:
Sling TV and Amazon Team Up
Get $50 off the new Amazon Fire TV, now better than ever, when you prepay three months of Sling TV!
Click here to read why I don’t think FireTV is the end all alternative to cable either.
Sling TV on Roku
Next up was the Roku Partnership. We have two options to choose from: 1) 50% off a Roku 3 with Voice Search (reg. $99.99) + 50% off when you prepay three months of Sling TV. 2) Free Roku 2 (reg. $69.99) when you prepay for three months of Sling TV.
Great Leap Forward? Yes
Complete Alternative to Cable TV? No
Are we 80% There? YES
By leaving out OTA television and by limiting how many devices can be used at once, Dish has failed to meet the minimum requirements of a complete cable TV alternative. Without the bulk of America’s favorite shows and the ability for more than one person to use your account, this device is just another service in a sea of competitors.
That is not to say Sling is not without its merits; and during football season you can bet I will be giving Sling TV a good hard look. However, we cannot call this service a true cable TV alternative quite yet. You never know, Dish may add OTA television to its line-up later on down the road; but until that day comes, you’ll still need a good old fashion OTA antenna.
Try their 7-day free trial to see for yourself
Sling TV Technical Support
Need technical support? Here are your options: Support is best handled by their phone number: 888-893-9069, but they are also on Twitter @SlingAnswers
In summary, I think your best off combining a few services together to get everything you need. Sling TV for your niche channels, an OTA Antenna for your major network broadcasts and a streaming service like Netflix for movies. My point being, there is not one end all solutions. But by combining a few services, we can get pretty darn close.
Do you have Sling TV? If so what do you think? I want to hear from you. Do you disagree? Agree? Or have more to add? Please reach out and share your thoughts.