Streaming devices work great for individual shows that you can often get through a third-party service like Netflix, Amazon, or Hulu Plus, but plenty of shows are not available or are only available after they first air. Some networks do have their own streaming channels, with both live and on-demand programming, but many of them restrict access to cable/satellite customers (which they determine by making you sign into your provider’s account). The good news is that the TV environment is rapidly changing due to all these new technological developments, so cable companies are finally realizing they need to come up with new models for audiences who don’t want to spend $200 a month for a bunch of channels they don’t want.
One of the first attempts at creating a new model is the new Sling TV service from Dish Network. This streaming-only service offers its basic package for just $20/month and delivers live programming from a variety of sports, entertainment, children’s, lifestyle, and news networks (ESPN, ESPN2, TNT, TBS, Adult Swim, Disney Channel, ABC Family, Cartoon Network, Food Network, Travel Channel, HGTV, and CNN). They also offer three add-on packages, each costing an additional $5/month: Sports Extra, Kids Extra and News & Info Extra.
You can watch the shows on most PCs and mobile devices and on TV currently through a Roku, Amazon Fire TV and Xbox 1, with additional devices to come. There is a 7-day free trial available and no contract commitment—you can cancel any time.
NOTE: Sling TV is currently offering deals on the Fire TV and Roku devices, including free sticks, if you prepay for 3-months’ service.
At the moment, the service is probably most valuable to people who are primarily sticking with cable for ESPN so, if that’s not your reason, it may not be a good deal for you. And streaming TV is not yet as reliable as cable or satellite service, as Sling TV viewers discovered during the 2015 March Madness semi-finals.
But I expect these kinks will eventually be worked out and that Sling will add more programming as they see what’s working and what’s not. And I’m absolutely positive that all the other cable and satellite providers will be watching VERY closely to see how the service performs, so stay tuned…!