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Apple TV 4: Watch Live TV with Sling TV

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Sling TV offers integrated controls on the video playback screen. When you’re watching live TV, swiping down on the Siri Remote’s Touchpad displays info and subtitle options.

Sling TV Swipe down to View Info Panel

Unfortunately, the standard tvOS options for audio (Reduce Loud Sounds) are not available. You can turn these on using Siri instead. Swiping up on the Siri Remote Touchpad will display an integrated channel guide. You can switch channels using the guide, which also displays the current programming schedule.

Sling TV Swipe up to View Channel Guide

Swiping up again will display a channel category filter, making it easier to refine your channel options. The integrated channel guide is one of my favorite features. It’s better than anything I’ve seen on a cable box.

The ability to pause and scrub through live TV varies based on the channel. I think this is due more to legal restrictions. Some channels enable viewers to skip advertising. Others disable the ability to pause, scrub and start a show from the beginning. CNN, for example, is only live with no controls. The Food Network gives you full control.

On-demand programming, which Sling TV calls “Available Now”, has slightly different controls during playback. User can access the info/subtitles and integrated channel guide panels by swiping up or down on the Siri Remote. Most on-demand content allow users to pause. Not all programs allow scrubbing through content, as it enables users to skip advertising.

Is Sling TV Worth It?

I really enjoyed my free trial of Sling TV, but I decided not to continue the subscription. I found it impressive, but I am not a fan of live TV. I don’t watch a lot of sports. I typically watch movies and the more high-end, non-network TV shows, like Game of Thrones, Better Call Saul and The Walking Dead. Although Sling TV does feature AMC, my life just doesn’t revolve around a TV schedule. I would end up buying AMC shows on iTunes. Until Sling offers DVR capabilities or comprehensive on-demand (like HBO NOW), I can’t justify spending $20 a month.

I also found myself falling into the old, familiar pattern of watching junk TV. I spent a whole Saturday afternoon watching Diners, Drive-Ins and Dives on the Food Network. It’s a pretty good show, but the temptation to just watch another episode is always there. After all, without a DVR or comprehensive on-demand options, I can’t watch it later. This reminded me of all the time I wasted watching mediocre TV when I had cable. I stayed up late one evening, because Bizarre Foods was on. These days, with the available technology, we shouldn’t be altering our lives to accommodate the television schedule.

Sling TV is a great option for a lot of people. If sports or CNN are keeping you tethered to cable, Sling TV can help you cut the cord for only $20/mo. I actually prefer CBSN, which is completely free on Apple TV. CBSN offers a 24/7 live news broadcast and it’s more reliable than CNN on Sling TV. ABC News also offers a free tvOS app, with frequently updated news. SKY News offers a 24/7 live stream for Apple TV. There’s so much free news on Apple TV that CNN just wasn’t compelling. For some people, CNN is a necessity. Also, if you love sports, Sling TV offers both ESPN and ESPN 2. (continue…)

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