Dish may have started a service that will take another step towards burying traditional cable and satellite services. Dish will soon be launching Sling TV (which has no affiliation with the Slingbox), a subscription based internet TV service that allows you to stream a variety of cable channels without an accompanying cable subscription. Among the channels that will be included at launch – ESPN, ESPN2, TNT, and TBS, all of which air live sports. CNN, Food Network, Cartoon Network, Adult Swim, and the Disney Channel are also included.
Unlike traditional service providers, there’s no contract with Sling TV – it’s a month to month thing like Netflix or Hulu. The initial cost is $20 a month, and Sling TV will be available on a variety of platforms, including Amazon Fire TV, Mac, Roku, and Windows, among others. However, no launch date is immediately know.
There are also plenty of caveats with Sling TV. Restrictions on ESPN viewing, primarily on mobile platforms, will likely be implemented because of existing contracts. Commercials will still air on Sling TV, so you’re not going to be free of Flo from Progressive or Super Creepy Rob Lowe. It’s also not a purely a la care service – you can add “genre packages” to the base setup for $5 each. The packages already announced include “kids” and “news”, which are vague enough to raise an eyebrow.
The major broadcast networks are also obviously not involved, which could be a huge disappointing outcome for sports fans. If there’s no NBC, why would NBC Sports Network be included? If Fox balks on inclusion, they probably wouldn’t be too keen on adding Fox Sports 1. If you’re cutting the cord, NBC Live Extra and Fox Sports Go would be useless to you, since they require an authenticated login. There’s also only a single stream limit on Sling TV, so if two people want to watch something on live at the same time, you’re out of luck.
Sling TV is definitely worth keeping an eye on, though I’m not sure if it’s going to be an immediate game changer. $20 a month is still much cheaper than paying the hundreds of dollars required by your cable or satellite provider, but are nine channels that may have streaming restrictions really worth $20 a month when added on to your monthly internet and Netflix/Hulu charges?