In January, Dish Network announced "Sling TV", a service that will stream live television over the internet for the low price of $20 per month. The service supports several internet-based devices, including Amazon Fire TV, Roku, Xbox One, iOS, Android, Macs, PCs and some brands of Smart TVs.
Initial channels include ESPN, ESPN2, TNT, TBS, Food network, HGTV, Travel Channel, Adult Swim, Cartoon Network, Disney Channel, CNN and ABC Family Channel. Additional packages are available; a "Kids Extra" package (Disney Junior, Disney XD, Boomerang, Baby TV, Duck TV) as well as a "News & Information Extra" package (Bloomberg, HLN, DIY, Cooking Channel). AMC has just been added to the core package, and a "Sports Extra" package will come later. The Sports Extra package will include ESPN News, ESPN U, SEC ESPN Network, ESPN Buzzer Beater, ESPN Bases Loaded, ESPN Goal Line. Universal Sports, Bein Sports, and Univision Deportes.
The service is available now, although apparently not all devices are supported, nor or all channels available yet. You can sign up for a seven day trial, which, honestly, seems a little short, but at $20 per month may not be that big a risk.
The idea is simple enough - use the internet and supported devices to provide a service that doesn't require specialized equipment nor a contract in an effort to woo back those who either can't afford or won't pay for regular programming packages that run anywhere from, oh, $60 to $250 per month.
I think it's a brilliant idea. I barely watch regular TV anymore other than live sports; I spend more time playing video games than I do worrying about what television series is on at any moment. If I want to watch movies or televison series, I'm much more likely to turn on Netflix as I've grown tired of scanning through the some 200 channels available on my current Dish Network programming to see if there is anything worth watching. I haven't watched the news on my own TV in years - the only time I watch the news on TV is when I'm stuck somewhere like a hotel, the airport, or a bar where it happens to be on. (Mrs CN regularly watches HGTV and that's available in the core package.)
I pay around $100 a month for my current Dish Network subscription, and we have had Dish for easily over a decade. I've always been happy with their service; outages are few and I like the equipment (we have the Hopper and accompany Joey), but like a lot of other people, I don't want to pay $100 a month for a crapload of channels I'm never going to watch. I feel like I'm throwing money away, something that causes a fair amount of disdain.
I haven't signed up for a trial, yet and honestly won't for a while. I do enough early adopting of technology in my regular work, plus, we only recently upgraded our Dish equipment, and I'm sure there would be a buyout were I to cancel our Dish account to go with the Sling offering (although I have not yet checked).
Keep in mind, this is just the beginning of Sling TV's offerings. If successful, it's hard to believe that more channels won't be added, maybe even the big one that's missing - BTN. That is the only channel that keeps me tied to my regular programming. More services will likely be added as well, such as On Demand (there is some apparently available now),
It's also the beginning of something that a lot of us are looking for, namely, ala carte programming, or the ability to pay for only the channels we're interested in.
There seems to be a lot of confusion over Sling's target market. It probably isn't you unless you're in your early 20s and can't afford a full programming package, or if you're like me and you want to cut your bill substantially.
It will be very interesting to watch what happens with this service over the next year, and what impact it has on other content providers. If Sling can make enough noise other providers will have to provide something comparable.
I am interested in hearing from the CN community's opinion about this, and about your TV-watching habits, maybe even what you're paying each month if you're willing to share.