Dish announced today the launch of Sling TV at the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas. In a nutshell, Sling TV is a service that only costs $20 a month (with no contract), but gives access to a handful of stations including ESPN.
At launch, it will include: TNT, TBS, CNN, Food Network, HGTV, Cartoon Network, Adult Swim, Disney, ESPN, and ESPN2 – along with Disney’s Maker Studios online content network.
There is no word yet on other ESPN stations such as ESPNU or the SEC Network, but it doesn’t look like that will be an option as of launch. Dish did announce that in the future, there would be add-on packages for $5 each that would add channels to the service. Each package would most likely be genre-specific in nature, such as a sports package with the other ESPN channels, a kids package with other Disney channels, and a news package with HLN, Bloomberg TV and others.
Sling TV cuts the need for a cable or satellite TV contract, and provides you with a decent amount of TV for way less than you would pay a cable company. ESPN and ESPN2 make this almost worth it alone, much less the line up of Turner stations.
The majority of TV I watch as a 28-year-old with the brain of a 13-year-old is sports related, or cartoon related. If I’m home in the middle of the day, I have my TV on TBS watching re-runs of American Dad, The Office, Seinfeld, Family Guy, and more. During primetime and on weekends, my TV stays on ESPN. Then late nights (8 pm and later) I tune to Adult Swim to watch even more re-runs of American Dad, Family Guy, and original shows like Aqua Teen Hunger Force, Squidbillies, The Venture Bros. and others.
This service looks perfect, and if I weren’t automatically locked into a $70 a month service through my apartment with Charter, aka the worst cable/internet service on the planet, then I would be all over this. Whenever I make my next move, this will be on my radar.
What makes this work is that you can watch it on multiple devices from the start, and I assume it will only grow from there. The list of devices include:
Amazon Fire TV
Amazon Fire TV Stick
Google Nexus Player
LG Smart TVs
Mac / OS X
Roku set-top boxes
Roku Streaming Stick
Because this is like watching the actual TV channel, there are still commercials, so you won’t get past that, but it’s a great alternative to cable.
Dish isn’t the first to make a move like this. On top of products like Hulu and Netflix, HBO has announced that they are making HBO GO stand alone soon. But with a product like Sling TV, combined with Hulu Plus, Netflix, and HBO GO independent – I’ll still be spending less than what most cable companies can offer.
There are some downsides. First, none of the networks seem to be on board with this, so if you want to watch shows on Fox, ABC, CBS, or NBC – you’re out of luck with Sling TV. That also means any sporting events on those stations are gone (although ABC events could likely still be available on WatchESPN). There are still some other major cable channels that aren’t on board, such as AMC, FX, Comedy Central, MTV, and others – but that doesn’t mean they can’t join up in the future.
There isn’t a date yet that you can order the service. As with most things at CES, it’s strictly an announcement of an idea or new product, but nothing more. Many things you see at CES, won’t hit the mainstream until years later. There are things I saw at CES when I went last back in 2011 that you still can’t buy today.
Regardless, it’s a great step to making things more available that we want, and cutting the price down on terrible cable bundles that give you plenty of things you don’t want.