By streaming ESPN, Dish just dashed cable’s last leverage

Sling
Photo credit: Digital Trends/ Ryan Waniata
On Memorial Day 2010, I did the unthinkable for someone who makes his living in TV – I cancelled my cable subscription. I was part of the earliest wave of cord cutters, wanting to see just how long I could last without paying $100 a month to Time Warner Cable.

I made it two months.

Despite getting Hulu, Netflix, and the occasional purchase on iTunes, I really missed the option to watch some shows live, the night they aired. I missed having CNN around as background noise. Most notably, I missed live sports.

It’s the proverbial game-changer.

Had Dish’s just-unveiled “Sling TV” service been around the summer of 2010, my experiment would’ve been much more successful. For $20 a month, Sling TV offers CNN, TNT, TBS, Disney Channel, ABC Family, Food Network, HGTV, Cartoon Network/Adult Swim, Travel Channel, and a new channel from The Maker Studios YouTube empire. Oh, and you get little upstart network called ESPN (not to mention ESPN 2). Sling TV subscribers will be able to access live feeds of those channels from just about any mobile device or computer, not to mention several smart-TV peripherals. (Note: Apple TV isn’t natively supported, but Airplay-mirroring from any iDevice should still work.)

Sling TV is more than a channel changer. It’s the proverbial game-changer. It was cute when CBS announced a stand-alone streaming service. It was interesting when HBO announced that HBO Go would one day be decoupled from cable. But Sling TV is different. For a certain segment of the population, this is the day they’ve been waiting for to cut the cord for good.

Sling
Photo credit: Digital Trends/ Ryan Waniata

Unfortunately, I’m no longer part of that population. Dish says it is openly targeting 18-to-35 year olds, but its actual target is even narrower than that. A look at the service’s limitations gives you a better picture of what they’re really after.

Subscriptions only allow for a single stream at a time, so multi-person households beware. Save for ABC Family, female-skewing networks (think Bravo, Lifetime, We, E!, etc.) are noticeably absent. And DVR-ing is going to be hit or miss for a while, as it’ll be up to individuals shows to decide how long they want their content available — if at all — after airing. So the ideal Sling TV user is a single young male who lives on his own and doesn’t fret when he misses a program (or mind paying a little extra for complimentary services to fill in the gaps).

For a certain segment of the population, this is the day they’ve been waiting for to cut the cord for good.

Like I said, that’s not me, and it might not be you either, but that’s still a large group of people. But just because it’s not targeted at you, that doesn’t mean you can’t still appreciate the development. Frequent travelers, for example, should cheer since the channels go wherever you go. And single parents, possibly fresh off a divorce, should like that it exists. For them, the $5 Kids add-on bundle (including more kid-friendly channels) could be a must-have. And then there are the TV super-users, the people who currently subscribe to multiple streaming services, in addition to cable or satellite, simply for the convenience of them. Unlike Sony’s streaming cable alternative, which costs almost as much as traditional cable, Sling TV is inexpensive enough to justify as a complimentary service, even if you don’t intend to cut the cord.

2014 saw a lot of announcements that could “potentially” change the TV landscape. Dish’s announcement yesterday doesn’t need the “potential” qualifier. For many people, it’ll be a real service with a real impact on their lives. That’s why I’m excited about it, even though I don’t plan to subscribe.

We’re only one week into 2015, and we may have already seen the development of the year.

Features

Netflix’s latest price increase heralds the end of streaming’s golden age

Netflix’s recent price rise is just the latest in a string of signs that streaming’s golden age is nearly over. As more services enter the fray, content will be further partitioned, signaling the end of streaming’s good old days.
Home Theater

Looking to cut cable? Here’s everything you need to know about Pluto TV

Pluto TV offers plenty of entertainment in a fashion similar to live internet TV services, only at no cost — you don’t even need to register. Too good to be true? Here’s everything you need to know.
Home Theater

Cutting the cord? Let us help you find the best service for live TV streaming

There's a long list of live TV streaming services available to help you cut the cord and replace your traditional TV subscription. Each is different in important ways, and this guide will help you find the best one for you.
Home Theater

Sling TV offers free shows, a la carte subscription channels to Roku users

If you are among a select group of Roku users, Sling TV has added free TV shows and the option to subscribe to individual channels without having to subscribe to the company's base level of channels.
Home Theater

What’s new on Amazon Prime Video (February 2019)

Amazon Prime Video adds new titles each month that are available for free to all Prime members. Check out our list to find all the content hitting Amazon Prime Video in January and February, from new original series to classic films.
Home Theater

What are HDMI ARC and eARC? Here’s how they can simplify your home theater

HDMI ARC is one of the coolest TV features at your disposal. But if you're like most folks, you have no idea how it works, if you even know what it is at all. Here's our primer on HDMI ARC, as well as the next generation technology, eARC.
Home Theater

Walmart abandons its plans for a streaming Netflix killer

Rumored plans for a Walmart owned, Vudu-labeled Netflix streaming killer have been shelved according to a new report from CNBC. The billions it would have needed to invest in order to compete apparently gave the mega retailer cold feet.
Home Theater

Want to mirror your smartphone or tablet onto your TV? Here's how

A vast arsenal of devices exists to allow sending anything on your mobile device to your TV. Our in-depth guide shows you how to mirror content from your smartphone or tablet to the big screen from virtually any device available.
Deals

Need a smart speaker? Amazon knocks $50 off Sonos Beam soundbar with Alexa

If you're looking to add some oomph to your home audio setup, then through February 3, the Alexa-enabled Sonos Beam is on sale for $50 off, bringing this excellent smart sound bar down to just $349 on Amazon.
Home Theater

Dolby’s secret recording studio app may soon exit stealth mode

In secret testing since June, Dolby's stealth recording and social network app may soon be ready to make an appearance. Dolby 234 blends unique noise-canceling tech with Instagram-like audio filters.
Home Theater

From the Roku Ultra to the Fire TV Cube, these are the best streaming devices

There are more options for media streamers than ever, so it’s more difficult to pick the best option. But that’s why we're here. Our curated list of the best streaming devices will get you online in no time.
Home Theater

Plex is the latest player to contemplate the subscription streaming game

With massive reach thanks to its client app being supported virtually every media device on the planet, Plex is now looking at the future of its media curation platform. A future that may include free and subscription services.
Home Theater

Yamaha’s MusicCast Vinyl 500 turntable spreads analog joy throughout your home

It can be tough to listen to your favorite analog tunes anywhere besides the room where your turntable is located. With its MusicCast Vinyl 500 turntable, Yamaha allows you to stream your tunes throughout your home.
Home Theater

Here are some common AirPods problems, and how to fix them

Apple’s AirPods are among the best fully wireless earbuds we’ve seen, but they’re not perfect. If you’re having trouble, take a look at our guide to the most common problems and what you can do to fix them.