Many, many other writers have reviewed Sling TV (the new online video service from Dish that was announced at CES), so I won’t belabor the points they’ve already covered. There are licensing issues. Not all features are available on every channel. It’d be nice to have more on-demand television content instead of mainly VOD movies.
But, on the other hand, ESPN is pretty great (plus Disney, HGTV, etc.). And any-screen access for live TV is a plus.
What struck me about Sling TV, however, is how much it doesn’t feel like TV. It feels like Netflix.
There’s occasional buffering. Sometimes there are visual artifacts on screen, or the sound cuts out. It’s hard to channel surf. Changing channels takes time, which means you don’t do a lot of scrolling up and down the line-up. And you never just turn on the TV. You – noticeably – load up a video stream.
Still, you know you’re only paying a fraction of the normal cable bill, and maybe that makes up for a lot.
Netflix changed our expectations. Internet video isn’t perfect, but for a cheaper price and some bonus features like multiscreen access, it’s often good enough. Most likely Sling TV won’t succeed or fail because of how seamless the experience is. It will live or die based on whether or not people are willing to pay $20 a month for the content it offers.
Sling TV isn’t for me. I like Justified on FX, and VoD for all the episodes of The Good Wife I forget to record. I’m fully wedded to the overpriced cable bundle.
Is it for other people? That we’ll just have to wait and see.