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Sling TV doesn’t offer some of the most popular networks. NBC and CBS are not available on Sling TV. These can’t even be added on with a package. You can get FOX with one package, but not with the other. Unfortunately, both packages are mutually exclusive. Sling TV is the victim of greed and stalled negotiations as we transition from cable to Internet-based television. Hulu has rights to NBC programs. CBS sells their own live TV solution — CBS All Access. Sling TV is a puzzle with missing pieces. At best, one can say it is a good value. It’s only $20. If you want a complete substitute for cable TV, however, you’ll have to subscribe to a few services. At that point, cord-cutting is no longer cost-effective. If you require several channels, cable and satellite are still good deals.
Reliability is another problem with Sling TV. Sometimes I forgot I was watching streaming video. It felt like I was just watching cable. This feeling was ephemeral, as pauses, stream thinning (moments of poor video quality) and freezes reminded me that this is still a bleeding edge product. With every hour of viewing, I experienced at least one problem. Cable TV is much more reliable, but not perfect either.
I expect Sling TV to rapidly improve. The service just launched last year. The problem is, these reliability issues are not all Sling TV’s fault. It could be the Internet connection or general congestion across the Internet. Streaming video has to hop between servers as it travels from the data center to your Internet connection. There are just so many things that can go wrong. Regardless of how Sling TV improves their data center, the entire Internet needs to improve in order for live, streaming TV to be as reliable as cable. That said, I’ve found free services like CBSN’s live broadcast to be more reliable than Sling TV.
I’m keeping an eye on Sling TV as it continues to grow and evolve. I understand that providing certain channels is something out of their control. CBS, for example, is not going to undercut its All Access service. NBC is partnered with Hulu. If Sling TV could offer a DVR and better on-demand options, I would definitely subscribe just for AMC. The $20 per month subscription fee is much cheaper than purchasing one season of The Walking Dead.
Despite the fact that I am not a paying Sling TV customer, I think the service has a lot of potential. It is the boldest and most comprehensive live TV service for the cord-cutter. It’s offerings may be complete enough to enable some to finally cancel cable. I look forward to subscribing to Sling TV in the near future.
Sling TV may be perfect for you. I recommend going for their free trial. It’s easy to cancel if it’s not right for you. Despite its flaws, the user interface is impressive and I think Sling TV may be the future of television, unless they are usurped by a competitor. There are rumors that Apple is working on its own live TV service. Apple has a history of “Sherlocking” competitors. For now, Apple is promoting Sling TV, as it helps sell Apple TV devices. They’re even letting Sling TV bypass in-app purchases for subscriptions. When they have their own live TV service, I expect this to change.
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