Everything You Need To Know About Sling TV, Dish’s Attempt To Turn Cable Into Netflix

Dish revealed what was probably the biggest announcement at CES 2015, the arrival of Sling TV, a streaming service with multiple cable channels, arriving at the end of January. Among them, most crucially, is ESPN. But what else do you need to know about the service, launching later this month?

So, wait, I can now treat live TV like Netflix?

Not exactly. For your $20 a month, you get ESPN, ESPN2, TNT, TBS, Food Network, HGTV, Travel Channel, Cartoon Network, Disney Channel, ABC Family and CNN, all of them streamed live, with ads. For an extra $5 you can add “channel packs:” The kids version comes with Disney Junior, Disney XD, Boomerang, Baby TV and Duck TV, while the “News” pack adds HLN, Cooking Channel, DIY and Bloomberg TV.

So I can’t pick and choose what channels I want?

Dish insists the economics don’t work out for the cable channels and that consumers would find it too much of a hassle to pay only for what they want. The former is absolutely true, while the latter is… underestimating the consumer a bit, we think.

So why should I consider paying $20?

Because it’s TV quite literally anywhere and, unlike every other live network streaming deal, you don’t need to have a cable subscription to use it. That, really, is the big one right there. You can also pause, rewind, and fast-forward, and some programming will be available for up to three days after airing, no DVR necessary.

What will it work on?

Desktop web browsers, Android and iOS devices, Amazon Fire TV products, Roku, Google’s Nexus Player, “select” smart TVs from Samsung and LG, and the Xbox One. They state that other streaming platforms are coming, as well.

Yeah, but what about other channels?

Excellent question. You’ll notice that the channels here all come from companies that aren’t currently owned by Dish competitors, and honestly, I don’t think Comcast will be charging into the breach for a service that makes their bread and butter obsolete for a lot of people, for example. Similarly, premium networks like Showtime and HBO are going to try and take on Netflix on their own, rather than help Dish supplement their product.

So basically, for $20, I can get some core channels streaming, but I’ll have to add other functionality piecemeal to get exactly the package I want?

Hey, no monopoly is knocked over in a day.