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Sling TV review: Television's future is still in development

Jared Newman | Feb. 2, 2015
Sling TV changed my TV-viewing habits in less than a week.

On-demand video wasn't nearly as pleasant. Some videos failed to play at all, and every episode ended a few seconds before its actual conclusion. Sling TV also seemed to resist fast forwarding on my Roku 3, not allowing me to skip ahead by more than 10 seconds at a time. The only way to get through a commercial break, then, was to mash the fast forward button over and over again. One other nitpick: Sling TV's on-demand listings include the paid programming that shows up in the early morning hours, which seems like a waste of space.

If you have a capped data plan from your Internet service provider, you might also want to be mindful of your Sling TV use. Because the experience is so much like cable TV, it's tempting to just leave the TV on all day, or turn the TV off without actually exiting the Sling TV app. At around 4Mbps for the high-quality feed, this will speed you toward your data cap in no time. Sling TV's settings do allow you to reduce video quality to save bandwidth and data consumption, at least.

Sling TV is a new and unique service, so a lot of these woes should be fixable. And because the core live TV service works so well, I'm not questioning Dish's decision to launch Sling TV broadly in the next week or two. (People who pre-registered are starting to gain access now.) I will, however, keep an eye on the service after launch to see if the influx of new users causes any major issues.

Is Sling TV worth the $20 per month subscription? The answer for everyone will be different, and it will depend on how much cable TV costs in your area, how much you care about the channels Sling TV offers, and how much you crave live programming as a fixture in your living room.

In any case, I'm pulling for Sling TV. No one knows whether a small channel bundle like this can succeed, or whether it'll blow up the pay TV industry in the process. But in offering this service, Dish is taking a bold step into the unknown. I hope it never looks back.


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