Ever since it was announced at the Consumer Electronics Show this year, the cord cutting community can’t stop talking about Sling TV. If you’ve been out of the loop, Sling TV is a new over-the-top subscription service that will include a bundle of 12 live televisions channels, including ESPN; which is a network that has remained painfully out of reach for many sports loving cord cutters.
Many have hailed this as the cord cutter’s dream that will revolutionize the entertainment industry; but is it really that amazing? Will Sling TV really change the way entertainment is viewed? Could Sling TV really be the cable TV alternative that we’ve been waiting for? Today, we’re going to take a look at Sling TV and find out!
First, let’s take a look at what Sling TV is actually offering and for how much.
For $20 a month, you get something called “The Best of Live TV” package; and it includes the following channels: ESPN, ESPN2, TNT, TBS, Food Network, HGTV, Travel Channel, Adult Swim, Cartoon Network, Disney Channel, ABC Family, and CNN.
For an extra $5 a month, you can add extra channels packages which are as followed:
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.
As far as an over-the-top subscription service goes, this is a pretty impressive collection of networks; especially for sports fans. ESPN and its affiliate networks have long eluded cord cutters; forcing many to buy into a costly cable or satellite subscription during their favorite sport’s season.
The collection of sports networks alone could justify the $20-$25 price tag for many; and when you throw in the number of kid-friendly networks, it’s hard for families to say no to that. However, noticeably absent from the available channels are the broadcast networks (ABC, NBC, CBS, FOX, CW, Telemundo, etc…).
While broadcast television may seem like a minor oversight, in reality it’s a lot bigger than you think. With some exception, the most popular shows on television (Big Bang Theory, How to Get Away With Murder, NCIS, etc…) are all on network TV.
Ignoring that for a moment, there’s also a lot of sporting events that air on the broadcast networks; i.e. most NFL games, college football, the World Series, etc… Leaving off OTA television greatly reduces your sports viewing capability.
Broadcast networks would seem like a natural fit for something like Sling TV; especially when you consider the fact that anyone with an Over-the-Air antenna, like the Mohu Leaf, would be able to pick up the channel for free.
Although services like Aereo have been shut down by the courts, Sling TV is run by DISH Network; a satellite television provider. Aereo was shut down because they did not pay broadcast networks licensing fees to rebroadcast their signal and DISH most already has such rights; it leaves one wondering why broadcast television was left out.
Sling TV is pretty amazing, but it’s no cable TV alternative; it’s currently just one piece if the cord cutting puzzle. Until a service comes along that offers all your favorite cable AND broadcast television in one service or device, an HDTV antenna, like the Mohu Leaf, is still a must have in your cord cutting arsenal.
Now while Sling TV is not a true cable TV alternative, it does stand to change the way we watch television. Sling TV is the first service to offer a quasi-à la carte television package.
The $20 base fee and $5 add-on model is brilliant and it’s a step the right direction for television providers.
For the modern television viewer, less is more and freedom is the name of the game. If Sling TV is successful, more competitors will adopt this model; and the resulting competition will help not only diversify the market, but also give better choice to the consumer.
Combine that with individual networks like HBO offering their own individual subscription service and you have the makings of a paradigm shift in entertainment.
Services like Sling TV and HBO GO aren’t necessarily the revolution in entertainment that cord cutters are looking for; rather they are the catalyst for that revolution. Sling TV won’t kill cable, but it definitely makes me excited to see what television will look like in the next 10 years; and all things considered that’s pretty great.
Dave Kennedy is a long time cord cutter who became increasingly frustrated with the high cost of Cable TV and decided to make a stance. In 2011 he launched KilltheCableBill.com, a site dedicated to helping people save money through providing simple, cost-effective cable TV alternatives. Since then, David has helped 1,000s of people cancel their cable subscription while keeping the shows they love.
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