I’ve been a cordcutter for quite some time. After Time Warner Cable started charging upwards of $180 for the only monthly cable television package that was worth anything, I realized it was time to just stop caring about live television. Over the past few years — and yes, I’ve been cable-less for the past few years — I’ve had to rely on Netflix, Amazon Prime Video and Hulu Plus, and a TV antenna, supplemented with seasons upon seasons of DVDs for my television content needs. Unfortunately, that means I wasn’t able to watch live sports all that much — at least, legally — unless I was at a bar or a friend’s place. So, when Sling TV announced its internet television streaming service, I was incredibly excited. But has my excitement held up after a couple weeks of testing?
Absolutely. I’ll get into more details in this Sling TV review, but if you want the general gist of things, Sling TV simply works. Even in its pre-release state, I was greatly impressed with how smooth and clear playback was, how well the app worked on my Droid Maxx, my Samsung Galaxy Tab 4, and my Roku, and even the uniqueness that Sling TV brings to the pay-per-movie model.
First and foremost, the channels all stream in high quality, and work wonderfully. Rarely did I meet any hiccups during playback (and when I did, it was likely because I was streaming on Twitch while watching or playing H1Z1 which would hog my connection). There is a pretty good selection of live streaming channels at launch, and there will be more added in the future. There is, of course, ESPN and ESPN 2, which cures my sadness that was caused by not being able to watch Sportscenter every morning before I started work and every night before I went to bed. Now, with Sling TV, I can do that without any issues. There are also a few great channels for kids, which is absolutely great if you’re a parent like I am. Disney HD, Boomerang, Disney Junior and Cartoon Network (for the older children) are all available. And, again, work wonderfully. And if it is food porn you’re looking for, Sling TV has more than enough available with the Food Network and the Cooking Channel.
I’m more than satisfied with the $20 price tag of Sling TV, and even the extra packages are well worth it. But of course, because the initial service works so wonderfully, I’m left wanting more channels. Luckily, Sling TV will add more channels in the future.
Secondly, the app itself works very well, both on Android systems and the Roku 3. The channels begin playing immediately when you open the Sling TV app, and you’re able to surf through the channels just like you would any other live TV service (albeit with a slight delay of 3 or 4 seconds, comparable to DirectTV). Browsing through movies is a breeze, and Sling TV has the latest movies on their DVD release day (for example, Lucy was available the same day the DVD/blu-ray release at retailers). Movies are $4.99 for HD, and $3.99 for SD.
The movie section is actually just as well done as the live TV section. Sure, it separates movies by genre like Netflix or any other movie service does. But what Sling TV does different is the collections section. There are different unique collections to explore, such as “Better Than The Book,” “Masked Killers,” or “Courtroom Dramas,” and they all show thought, and don’t feel like they were created by a mindless machine. Instead, I’m reminded of that one Seinfeld episode where Elaine becomes obsessed with one of the video rental shop worker’s picks (I believe his name was Vincent if memory serves me correctly). These picks are genuinely good, and there are a lot of collections to check out — it’s a rabbit hole of wonderfulness. My only gripe with the movies section is that there are no IMDB, Metacritic or Rotten Tomato ratings in the movie information tidbits for each movie. You do get some of the movie’s information like rating, release year and length, but a user-rating and critic rating would be great to have for those movies you just aren’t sure about.
Like all TV services, Sling TV isn’t immune to some negatives. The biggest drawback of the service is the ability to only watch it on one device at a time. Now, with cable or satellite TV, you can watch live TV on any and all TVs at once. But with Sling TV, you’re limited to literally one device at a time. Meaning, I can’t watch American Dad while my wife watches Cupcake Wars. Major bummer. Hopefully, in the near future, Sling TV will utilize a tether to a certain IP address as opposed to a single device. That way, if a household pays for service, the family can all enjoy their own content whenever they want, and there are no fights at 9pm when everyone’s shows are live. We also weren’t given a preview app for the Xbox One version of Sling TV, and I’m almost wondering if Microsoft is holding something special for Xbox users (you know, because Microsoft is quite often secretive).
Those that have signed up already to use Sling TV will be receiving their invites later this week, and it will become available to the general public early next month. Is it worth it? Hell yes! ESPN, Food Network and Disney Junior for $20/month? That’s a definite yes, at least for me, since that’s pretty much what I watched when I had cable anyway. I’m very excited to see how Sling TV evolves in the coming months, and even more excited to see cable
monopolies companies fold in the near future.