Like so many consumers, I don't love my cable company. I'm constantly shaking my fist at the sky and declaring my intention to cancel my cable TV service, but I never quite get there. I always think of that one show we love that we'd miss.
The good news is that TV seems to finally be changing. Back in November we talked about Sony's Playstation Vue internet TV service which is supposed to be in closed beta as we speak.
Earlier this week, Dish announced a similar offering that they're calling Sling TV. Sling's big draw is that it is going to offer live sports via ESPN and ESPN2 without a cable subscription. Other channels announced for the service include TNT, TBS, The Food Network, HGTV, the Travel Channel, CNN and ABC Family, the Disney Channel and the Cartoon Network. In addition to live content the service will offer a selection of video-on-demand titles.
Sling will cost $20/month for the base package. According to a post at TechCrunch you can also add 'packs' of additional channels for $5 more/month. Examples are the Kid's Extra pack (which adds a bunch of kid's shows) and the News & Info Extra pack which adds more news and DIY channels.
The good news is that even after you add a few packs Sling TV will be a lot cheaper than your average cable TV subscription. The bad news is you won't be getting the big four networks (though those of us who live in an urban or suburban area may be able to get those via an inexpensive HD antenna). The really bad news for families is that according to the Washington Post you get just a single stream with a subscription. In other words if you have two televisions (or a TV and a tablet) in different rooms, only one can use Sling at a time (unless you pay for multiple subscriptions). As a comparison, Netflix's $7.99/month plan allows two concurrent streams, and their $11.99/month plan allows 4.
You can access Sling TV on a tablet or computer, on some LG Smart TVs or via various streaming boxes including the Roku, Fire TV, and the Google Nexus. It'll also work on Microsoft's Xbox One gaming console and in fact Xbox Live members will get a free one month trial (details at Xbox Wire). That deal is because Sling TV is an Xbox One gaming console exclusive. In other words don't expect it on the Playstation or Wii U any time soon.
As an Xbox One owner I'll definitely take the service for a spin. I'm not a huge sports fan so for me it'll depend on exactly what other channels are available. I'm assuming the list making the rounds is a partial list and that there'll be more than 11 channels. Sony said Playstation Vue would have 75 channels including the networks and as far as I can see, Vue will be Sling TV's major competition (once Sony gets it on devices beyond the Playstation).
I'm not committing to anything yet but I'm excited to see alternatives to paying my cable company $100+ dollars/month for 300 channels, only about a dozen of which I ever watch. Sling TV is supposed to launch 'in the coming weeks' so we won't have long to wait to see how this pans out.