The idea has been popular for maybe 7-8 years, right about the time Netflix starting making major headway. Still, it’s only been the past few months I’ve finally noticed an evolving pattern of “cable-cord-cutters” emerging.
Many people are still paying $100+ monthly for TV service they don’t really need… then again, maybe some do need it. My wife needs her Bachelorette and Dancing with the Star fixes that “need” to be viewed live, and then there’s sports which, do need to be real-time.
In our home, we cut that cable cord a year ago and replaced it with an over-the-air antenna. Combined with our Tivo service ($15/month) we still have an on-screen guide, can record shows, & watch the major local channels (including sports & the Bachelor, etc). For other shows, we stream Amazon & Netflix from our Tivo/AppleTV/FireTV/SmartHub. No complaints here.
Last week we signed up for a free week trial of SlingTV (sling.com) - one of the growing outlets for stream programming. Their service packages allow you to chose what you “need” a-la-carte, starting at $20/month. The purpose to sign up was for my wife to watch TV throughout the week and report her opinion back to me so, I could get back to a customer who had asked about it (I never watch TV so I assigned her the job). HOWEVER, sorry to say she failed and didn’t watch any TV. No she’s not fired (LOL), she simply didn’t have time as there’s never a dull moment at home with two crazy boys and the usual weekly chaos.
I can report though, the SlingTV signup process was very intuitive and the channel offering packages seem to be well laid out and easy to navigate. From what I gathered I will recommend anyone with the means to try it, try it… then report back to me please :). “The means to try it”, means having; A Roku, AppleTV(4th gen), FireTV, or other streaming device capable of loading the SlingTV app, along with an adequate internet connection of course.
If you don’t have the “means” to try it, you may be falling behind the TV curve and my biased opinion is, catch up!
In other news;
1) 4k hyping; I’m still skeptical because picture quality in pixels has already gone above and beyond my non-20/20 eyes. However, I am looking forward to more new-coming TVs with HDR (high-dynamic range).
2) WiFi networks are more than ever a priority. We’ve been installing lots of network controllers to manage handoffs between AP(Access points) to make for seamless roaming around your home (or business). Luxul will soon be releasing a new dual-band-high-powered router with a controller built in (good for smaller installations with <3 APs). Also, if you have a structure on your property that needs coverage and, can’t get wire to or it’s too far for wire (>320’), Luxul just release a new wireless bridge as a possible solution (wireless bridge = virtual wire).
3) FYI I’m on a plane currently (to Portland for a friend’s wedding) and always appreciate the technology progress. Anyone noticed lately there’s no more tube TVs dropping from the ceiling? Instead it’s a touch panel in the headrest with lots of options to keep stimulated. I need to fly more…
In response to the above article, a good customer of ours just responded with some valuable feedback on SlingTV, he wrote:
"I have Sling TV and have been using it for about a year. I actually signed up for their multi beta where we dropped the ESPN & Disney channels in favor of a Fox focused package and the ability to watch on multiple screens at one time. The service has greatly improved over the last several months with many new channels added, the UI improving, and buffering being reduced. That being said, it's not anywhere close to the speed of switching channels on a cable or satellite box. The newest UI also doesn't load with the most recently watched channel. The app loads to a guide where you choose the channel or show you want to watch. That's nice but it means there's an extra step to just get live TV on. Of course, it's live TV on numerous devices (my Rokus, cell phone, tablet, PC) without a contract with a cable or satellite company. If I don't like it, I can cancel at anytime, online, instead having to jump through a dozen hoops. I tried to just try out the cable company's similar app and after chats, emails, and phone calls, I gave up. They wanted to upsell me and had no interest in helping me try out their service because I'm locked into another deal with them and disrupting that would cause my rates to skyrocket. I share that to point out that dealing with Sling is easy. And at just $20-25 a month, it's substantially cheaper than any other pay live TV option. Antenna is still cheaper and really serves to supplement what Sling doesn't have. The cons: It's a streaming service therefore, like any streaming service, can deal with buffering and interruptions. If you deal with buffering on Netflix (I rarely ever do), then you may struggle with SlingTV. In my experience it requires greater bandwidth because you're streaming more data and the ability to switch between multiple live steamed channels. Few if any local channels. We get NBC 7/39, but that's it. I use an antenna to get my local channels, but in that instance, it doesn't cover the major networks. Without an antenna, you'd probably need Hulu Plus along with CBS all access to cover the major networks. No DVR offering, but there are some shows on demand. I watch a lot of AMCs shows the day after they air, on demand, through SlingTV. Food Network always has a lot of content available on demand. Other channels have nothing available on demand. It's not available on every platform. If you have a smart TV, you may expect SlingTV to show up there at some point, but so far it's really only on a few set top boxes like the Rokus and Apple TV. The last and only real con for me is that the service originally planned on offering 5.1 surround audio, but still only has stereo audio. The picture is usually fine and the sound isn't bad for news, sports, or sitcoms, but if you're watching an intense high production value TV show like The Walking Dead and really appreciate the immersive experience that surround sound affords you, it is obviously missing with Sling. I believe they offer 5.1 for on demand pay per view movies, but I would rather use Amazon Video's interface and delivery for that. My wife doesn't love Sling, but uses it, and my little girls can kind of navigate it. It isn't as easy or intuitive as Netflix or even your cable box, but it's not overly complicated and is overall the best value for live streaming TV. PlayStation Vue is more expensive, but has DVR functionality. The UI for PlayStation Vue is very good on PS4, but significantly less polished and useful on a Roku. If I had a PS4 in every room, I might consider Vue over Sling, but on Roku, I still prefer using Sling. Hopefully that's plenty of information that you can either share on your site or with customers. Sling TV isn't for everyone, but they keep adding channels (including NFL Network), and are ready to try out and cancel if you don't like it. Have a great day! Ryan Schulze"