Looking to Cut the Cable Cord? Dish Network's Sling TV Is Now Available to Everyone. As of today, you no longer need an invite to get your Sling on. Here's what it is, what you can stream and for how much.
Opinions expressed by Entrepreneur contributors are their own.
Cutting the cord just got easier. As of today, Dish Networks is opening up Sling TV, its new live cable streaming TV service, to everyone in the United States. No invite needed.
The service, aimed at "cash-strapped millennials" who aren't up for pricey cable packages, officially launched Jan. 5, on an invite-only basis. Today Sling TV opened itself to the masses nationwide and is trying to lure customers in with a 7-day free trial. And, no, you don't have to be a Dish Network customer to subscribe. (That would pretty much defeat the purpose, right?)
For $20 a month, Sling TV delivers a variety of news, sports, children's and other channels -- plus viral Internet videos -- to users' TVs, computers, tablets and smartphones. Similar to the now defunct Aereo, Sling TV subscribers can either watch content live or on-demand. However, they can't record content and play it back later, as Aereo users could before its devastating Supreme Court loss.
The channel lineup is relatively robust for a streaming TV newcomer. Essentially it's what Dish subscribers are already privy to via Dish Anywhere, according to Geek.com. The base package includes: AMC (added and announced just today); ABC Family; Adult Swim; Cartoon Network; CNN; Disney Channel; El Rey; ESPN; ESPN2; Food Network; Galavision; HGTV; TBS; Travel Channel and TNT. These are all part of Sling's "The Best of Live TV" core package, available for a $20 monthly subscription. Access to the startup's VOD library is included.
For access to channels outside of the base package, there are three "add-on packs" available for $5 each per month. There's a kids' pack (featuring Disney Junior, Disney XD, Boomerang, Baby TV, and Duck TV), a news pack (featuring HLN, Cooking Channel, DIY and Bloomberg TV) and a sports pack (featuring SEC Network, ESPNU, ESPNews, ESPN Buzzer Beater, ESPN Goal Line, ESPN Bases Loaded, Univision Deportes, Universal Sports, and beIN Sports).
The inclusion of ESPN and ESPN 2 marks the first time either network will be available to over-the-top non-cable subscribers. Maker Studios is also making history with Sling TV. The popular multi-channel video network is offering a single channel on the nascent streaming service. Looking to diversify distribution, this is the first time Maker Studios will serve up videos outside of YouTube, reports TechCrunch.
A 3-day replay feature enables subscribers to view shows that have aired in the past three days on select channels, including HGTV, DIY, Travel Channel, Food Network and a half-dozen or so others.
The complete list of Sling TV compatible devices includes Android tablets and phones, iPhone, iPad, iPod Touch, PC and Mac, Roku players, streaming sticks and Roku TV models.
On its website, Sling TV, which CEO Roger Lynch describes as "a work in progress," says it will "soon" also be available on Amazon Fire TV and Fire TV Stick, Xbox One and Google Nexus Player.
Notably missing from the lineup are the Big Four network heavies streaming on Hulu -- ABC, CBS, NBC and Fox. Also less than ideal is that Sling TV users can only access content on one device at a time. It's a single-stream deal.
If you're hoping to skip out on commercials, you're out of luck. Sling TV pushes the same ads you see during typical commercial breaks on TV channels delivered via satellite or cable TV services.