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Saturday, December 16, 2017

A Month Into Sling TV, Here's My Review

In August, I wrote about cutting the cord as a necessary additional money saving response after getting a huge water bill from the City of Oceanside.  I'm happy to report that my water bill has been consistently between $230 and $250 since the city sent out a crew to check my meter.  Of course they reported that nothing was wrong with the meter, yet my bill went miraculously back down with me not changing any of my water consumption habits.  This post isn't about water bills though, so I'll stop my griping.  It's about my experience with Sling TV.

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We (my family) spent the months of August, September, and part of November with a Netflix subscription, YouTube, and an Android TV box for our viewing entertainment.  The Netflix subscription actually belongs to my father-in-law who lives with us, so we don't pay a dime for it.  My kids watch a lot of cartoons on Netflix.  We also watch music and dance videos on YouTube right after dinner to help us digest our food on these early dark winter nights.  Whenever we streamed shows or movies on our Android box via Kodi, we'd encounter some annoying freezing.  With the help of my more tech savvy brother-in-law, we diagnosed the problem: slow Internet speed.

As an AT & T Direct-TV customer, I didn't have to worry too much about an Internet outage.  Once I cut my Direct-TV subscription, everyone in the house upped their network wireless usage, meaning more people using bandwidth at the same time.  Slow ass Internet got old fast.  So I called AT & T and increased my speed from 12 to 18 Mbps.  I'm now being charged an additional $10/month on my Internet bill (now at $57 plus $7 for equipment fees).  But that's okay because I'm still ahead after shedding $77 per month on Direct-TV satellite.

The NBA basketball season got underway in November and I just couldn't cope.  I tried y'all!  So I looked to add an additional streaming service to get my sports fix.  Enter Sling TV.  Loading Sling TV for a one week free trial on my Roku TV in my upstairs bedroom was a snap.  The end of the free week trial doesn't cancel your subscription on its own.  You have to take care of canceling on your own time or be charged the full $20.  After entering my name and billing information, I had to then decide on a "Sling Service" and whether or not I wanted "Extras."


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Despite branding itself as an "A La Carte" streaming service, Sling TV is no restaurant.  The freedom to choose exactly the channel line-up you want just isn't possible.  You can choose "Sling Orange," "Sling Blue," or both.  There's only a five dollar difference between these two options ($20 for Orange, $25 for Blue) but they are two very different services.

For my taste, Orange has the better channel line-up: All 3 ESPN channels!  I also get History (Vikings!!!) and AMC (The Walking Dead, yo!).  Plus I get NBA games weekly on TNT.  Unfortunately, Orange doesn't offer NBC or Fox local so NFL football on Sundays was out.  I'm not a huge fan of the NFL so this was fine with me.  Monday Night Football on ESPN is still on, however.  Sling Orange has its limitations.  One, only one person can be watching any channel at a time.  And, two, no DVR option.  

Sling Blue eliminates ESPN.  I was not happy.  Here I thought It'd be all of Orange's line-up plus added channels.  It wasn't.  Big letdown.  You get like 15 more channels or so with Sling Blue, but no ESPN or Disney.  Sling Blue is better for people who like sitcoms and comedy shows on NBC and Fox.  I'll pass!  Another perk to getting Blue is that you can have multiple streams at once.  I have not purposely installed the Sling TV app on my kids' tablets because I don't need them watching Disney when I'm trying to watch my Golden State Warriors on national TV.

Going with both Sling Orange AND Blue defeats the purpose of cord cutting.  It gets you too close to a standard cable subscription.  Similarly, getting the Orange service and a bunch of Extras will quickly escalate your monthly dues.  I'm happy paying $20/month for my Sling Orange.  I get exactly what I want.

The Internet And Streaming Netflix, Hulu, And Other Cable Television Alternatives

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Streaming service providers, e.g., Dish who owns Sling TV, Netflix, AT & T who provides DirectTV Now, and soon to be Disney (Hulu and Disneyflix), all are able to make slow Internet speed like mine, sitting at 18 Mbps, not a big problem.  I marvel at how reliable Netflix and Sling TV streaming is on both my TV with Android box, and my Roku TV.  I don't know how these companies do it, sending so much data without any major hiccups.  Doing so at such an affordable price makes one wonder why some people still pay for Dish, DirectTV, AT & T Uverse and other traditional cable.

While Netflix has increased its monthly subscription price, Sling TV has not.  At least not yet.  I read at The Motley Fool that Dish's economics don't add up.  Too many of their satellite subscribers are canceling their Dish service and opting for the lower cost Sling TV.  Dish is collecting less and less revenue, therefore, from their higher premium Dish service.  While AT & T has other core businesses, Internet, and wireless phone, e.g., Dish does not.  Will this trend force Dish to eventually increase its price on Slign TV Orange and Blue?  Perhaps.

Making things even more interesting, the FCC this week put an end to Net Neutrality.  Don't be surprised if Internet providers, like AT & T, soon figure out a way of charging us little guys, more for streaming so we can get back on their more expensive Uverse or DirectTV satellite service.  Once again, companies win and consumers lose.

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