Quite often when we look back at our expenses for the prior year or do a budget for the first time, one of the biggest expenses that sticks out is the cable or satellite TV bill. Depending on the package this can quite easily run into the 3 digit mark per month. This leads to questioning why we pay so much a month on something we use so little and it has led to a growing amount of people “cutting the cord” and going away from cable TV.
Lisa and I got rid of our cable 5 years ago. Mainly this was a lifestyle choice, but also some consideration was made for the financial aspect as well. To be honest I haven’t really missed it much, except in a few cases. One of those instances was over the holiday week between Christmas and New Year’s. My Bengals were playing an important game on Monday Night Football, which was on ESPN and there were various college football playoff and bowl games on over New Year’s Eve and New Year’s Day which were also on ESPN. Being the big football fan that I am, I really wanted to watch those events, so I thought I would give Sling TV a try.
Sling TV is an internet TV service owned by the DISH network that started up early last year. Sling TV streams directly to your phone, laptop, tablets and other apps. Its appeal is that it has channels that were previously only available through your cable or satellite TV provider. To make sure I liked their service, I decided to give their 7 day free trial a try. After a week of trying it out there were some features that I really enjoyed and some others that I wasn’t so sure about.
What I liked about Sling TV was that the app itself was really easy to use and operate. Once you logged in, you just selected the channel you wanted to watch and up came a guide of what was airing currently and which shows would be next. Also the picture was great quality. That has been an issue in the past with some streaming services but Sling TV hit the mark perfectly on this.
It also has the basic cable channels that are the most popular. A complete list can be found on its website, but ESPN, ESPN2, TNT, TBS, and CNN are the main highlights along with other popular channels.
What is also nice is that with the Sling TV app available for both Android and iOS users, you can take Sling TV with you on the go. That would seem to be very useful if you are traveling or whatnot. Also Sling TV supports Amazon Fire TV, Apple TV, Roku, and Google Chromecast. That is really nice as I was able to cast the programming from Sling TV over to my TV and watch it.
Finally the price is pretty good for what you get. At $20 a month, you can’t really beat the price for basic cable. Also there are no contracts and you can cancel at anytime online, without having to call a sales rep, which was a real plus. With its ease of signup and cancellation you can conveniently just sign up for a period of time you want the service, say during March Madness or football season, and cancel when it is over. You can also add additional packages starting at $5 a month, but at $20 a month for basic, the budget won’t be broken.
The big drawback I found was that you can only watch Sling TV on one device per account. So, for example, if I was watching something on my phone and my wife wanted to watch on our iPad she wouldn’t be able to. If you are single you shouldn’t run into this issue, but if you live in a multi-person home it could be difficult sharing the programming.
It also doesn’t have DVR functionality. Now some of the channels do have On Demand viewing after the fact, but that doesn’t include the sports channels like ESPN or ESPN2 so if you record a lot of live TV you might be out of luck.
Although it does support devices such as Chromecast I was only able to cast successfully some of the time. Sometimes it would work perfectly, other items it would cast for a few months then stop and buffer. I don’t know if that was a Chromecast issue or a Sling TV issue but if I can’t cast it to my TV consistently it’s not worth it to have in my opinion.
Overall I think that Sling TV is a good product. I’ve read that the market reception to Sling TV has been lukewarm so far, which is really surprising. As cord cutting becomes more and more popular, as well as more and more financially beneficial, I think this is the future of programming and paid-for TV. It’s not a finished product by any measure and some things still need to be worked out. But if you are looking to cut cable costs while still getting enjoyable programming, Sling TV is a great option to look into.
I cut ties with it, though after the 7 day trial period ended. I enjoyed it, but just don’t feel like $20 is worth it, and more importantly my time is worth what it would take me away from doing. But I look forward to Sling’s improvement as it gets a foothold in the market.
How about you; what are your thoughts on “Cord Cutting?” Have you done it? What were the results?