TV viewers in the US had come to hate their cable operators after years of bad service, high pricing, and poorly designed packages. Forced contracts that meant the users could go nowhere else added to the sentiment. Not that they could go anywhere either for that matter, because every cable operator was equally substandard. Then came the era of streaming services, and the most disgruntled cable users were quick to jump ship and enjoy their freedom with streaming services.
But, they did miss their live TV and sports channels immensely. Two years ago, Sling TV put a proverbial final nail in the coffin of cable operators by solving this problem too, at least so it seemed then. Sling TV was a milestone even for the streaming industry. It brought live TV to the streaming audience, a first of its kind. You could now enjoy cable TV without having to suffer the problems that come with cable connections. It is now time to analyze whether the service has delivered on its promises or not. Here you go.
Cable TV for Cord-Cutters
Yes, that’s pretty much how the Sling TV was packaged for its audience. For the most part, it has delivered on its promises – both good and bad. Take for instance, Sling TV does offer a good number of cable channels to its users. It even brings sports channels like ESPN, which are not available with any other streaming service, for its users. The bad is that Sling TV viewers have to sit through as many ads as the cable subscribers. For TV Networks, advertising revenue is the biggest source of revenue, which they understandably can’t give up easily. It is only reasonable that the channels come with ads, no matter how they are aired, on the cable or on the internet. As for the viewer, this subjects them to a significantly inferior experience, when compared with the bevy of ad-free streaming services in the market.
Much of the pomp and show about Sling TV was about its customized packages to suit individual tastes of the viewers. It also prided itself on offering the users custom packages that charge them only for the channels that they want to enjoy. As most of us hardly watch the bulk of the channels in our cable package, Sling TV simply sought to get rid of those channels that you don’t watch. In line with this promise, Sling TV plans are compact and smartly designed. The basic plan, which costs just $20 per month, sports 30+ channels. Although it is not much, you can add add-ons, niche programming, and premium channels to your plans to customize them to your liking. The expansion packs each cost $5 per month, and offers you all the high quality premium programming that was available on cable TV.
Before you get all hyper about this feature, please know that the multi-device streaming from Sling TV is not the same as it is offered by other online video streaming services. If you were hoping that you would be able to streaming Sling TV on multiple devices simultaneously, like Netflix allows you to, you would be wrong. Yes, the Sling TV does allow you to enjoy television on a variety of devices. But, at any given time, you can access the Sling TV account on only one device. This means that to access Sling TV on your smartphone, you have to exit the app on your set top box or any other device on which it is running. This is a huge pain.
The absence of simultaneous multi-device access means that the entire family is forced to sit and watch the same program. The kids, the teens, and the adults face the same issue that they always did with cable connections – watching a common program. More often than not, this program is not the one ‘liked by all’, but the one ‘least hated by all’.
Flexibility and Choice
Cable companies are notorious for forcing their customers to sign multi-year contracts, trapping them for the long term. Although the subscription prices in the introductory period are attractive, once that period is over, the customers are charged exorbitant prices. In contrast, streaming services never force their customers to sign any contracts, and most of them are amazingly inexpensive. Sling TV does a good job on both of these factors. You can enjoy Sling TV without ever signing any contracts. Moreover, for the most part, the pricing of Sling TV is more competitive with streaming services than with the cable services, except in case of higher plans.
You pay for only a month of Sling TV service, at the end of which, you can continue with the present plan, or create a new plan by yourself. There is no doubt that Sling TV is way more flexible and offers a lot more choices in comparison to its cable counterparts.
Some of the channels also offer a 3-Day Replay feature. Although this is not the same as a DVR facility, (which is not available with Sling TV), it does come handy when you are unable to enjoy an anticipated show or movie at its original airing time.
From the get go, Sling TV was positioned as a cable TV service for cord-cutters. Well, one of the reasons why cord-cuttings are cutting the cord is the never-ending advertising on the TV Networks. They don’t have to suffer through pesky ads on streaming services. This is one of the important factors that make streaming services so popular in America today. Sling TV falls flat in this respect. Sling TV has the exact same number of ads as the cable connections, which is a lot. At least with respect to the ad experience, Sling TV is no better than a cable connection.
This is a glaring omission from the service’s bouquet of features. Viewers do not have the choice of picking a show or movie of their liking and watching it, which is possible with almost all the other streaming services. Whereas, the viewers get full access all the premium networks’ content online, when they add the respective channels to their Sling TV package.