Cut the Cable - Resources and Links


It probably does violate the MS TOS, but that doesn’t make it illegal. It means they could block service if they catch you. Which they apparantly haven’t done to anybody, because they don’t care, because it doesn’t cost them anything.

I can see paying the $25 because it’s easier, though.


This new app sounds great. Now I can watch Monday Night Football on ESPN, and Australian, French, US Opens and Wimbledon on ESPN1/2. $20/month doesn’t seem too steep since hopefully I can unsubscribe from the service at the end of the month each time. I just need the service for a few weeks at a time. More I guess, if I want to see every Monday Night Football game, but really my work schedule wouldn’t allow that anyway.

I just really, really hope that it’s a snappable app. I hate that Netflix and HBO Go still can’t be snapped so that I can watch them while playing games.


The thing that is still in favor of the cable companies is convenience. This new ESPN app is $20 and you pay for Hulu Plus and pay another $9 or $10 so you’re at $30. You still need a good antenna to get the local channels and that’s iffy for a lot of people.

For another $50 you can pay $80 and get a cable package with a couple of TVs hooked up and get all the channels plus a lot more, including the locals, and not have to worry about it. It’s not cheap but it’s $50 a month more to get that, and you probably want fast internet anyway so you get a break on the internet price when you bundle in TV. I don’t see the cable cutting really there yet unless you’re happy with Netflix and an antenna that works. That’s about as techy as most people want to get.

Edit: Just to elaborate, here’s another way of looking at cord cutting. Here’s what I want: The local channels, which includes the networks (NBC, ABC, CBS, Fox, CW), ESPN, Fox Sports, NFL Network, and Netflix. That would make me happy.

But I do not live alone! Another person needs HGTV, TLC, TCM, and probably another network or two.

And another person needs the Food Network and the Cooking Channel, along with some teen shows on Disney and Nick.

And that’s in a three-person household. The easiest way to deliver all the above is to be a cable subscriber, or in our case a Uverse subscriber. Maybe there’s a way to do it cheaper, but how much work does that entail and what will be the ongoing maintenance to make sure it continues to work, and can someone else other than me be responsible for it? And all that to save how much each month? Fifty dollars, maybe? It’s not happening here anytime soon.


Sure, but these services are nascent at this point. PlayStation Vue will be pretty close to a comprehensive cable alternative once it rolls out nation wide, especially if they can get Disney and Turner on board.

One of the big problems Sling will probably have is its one stream limit. It’s pretty limiting as a cable replacement if you can only be watching it on one device in a multi-person household at any given time.

One big advantage these services can have is not being feature limited by a litany of required hardware upgrades. Cable companies still want you to pay extra for HD and DVR access on a per TV basis. It doesn’t take long for that 100 channel package advertised for $40 a month to balloon into a $110 bill. The idea of getting the same channels, video quality, DVR features and OnDemand content from all your devices at no additional charge is super compelling. Especially since you can add devices or upgrade the hardware you own at will. Every single TV in our house has at least one, if not two Netflix capable devices connected to it and there’s no reason in principle those can’t all offer Sling/PS Vue too. Using the stuff we already own is a damn site better than paying Comcast or DirecTV $60-80 a month just in equipment rental. Not to mention if you have WiFi you’d never have to wait 2 hours for your cable install appointment again just to watch TV.


I think I will stick with cable for a little bit longer but I feel like within a few years I’ll be able to cut the cord so to speak. I have a wall mounted TV, so an antenna might be tricky. At the moment, I think I want to build my own DVR to stop giving Verizon $17 a month or whatever, but a DVR seems intimidating on some level where building my own PCs does not.


It’s a dead end now, but building a DVR using Windows Media Center is dead simple.


Is it the kind of DVR that lets you pause live TV? That’s one of the main features I use in DVR.


Yes. You can pause Live TV. That part is really smooth. Fast forwarding and rewinding gets a little bit more hiccuppy compared to cable, since Off-The-Air broadcast are so much more detailed, with no compression.


For some reason, my local CBS station’s broadcast cut out (every other station is fine) so I had to find an alternative option for today’s NFL playoff game. Lo and behold, CBS actually does a live stream of their sports broadcasts, and the quality is pretty good. Apparently a lot of other broadcast stations do the same, based on the quick Googling I did. Figured I’d post it in case anyone else hadn’t noticed it before, either.


Did you have to enter your TV provider’s info? I’ve noticed, for example, with ESPN I need to log in my Uverse credentials more often than not to get it to work on a mobile device or PC.


Not on the CBS feed, it was free and clear. You’re right about ESPN, though…unless it’s on their ESPN3 channel, they require a cable login. Which is one reason I’m pretty psyched up about SlingTV.


NBC sports and fox also require your cable credentials


[I]Someone’s[/I] cable credentials, anyway.


Sling TV has a review out on Lifehacker. Some useful information in there. Like Brad said above, there’s a one-stream-at-a-time limit, which matters not for me but I’m sure would be an issue in some households. Here’s a list from that review article of the goods and bads:


I have TV! On my TV! And in my pocket! And in the kitchen when I wash dishes! That’s amazing.

It’s (just barely) within my stingy price-range.

I’ve always wanted unfettered access to Cartoon Network and Boomerang. Now I have it.

It has sports! I might get a chance to become a baseball fan and that excites me. Also I can recommend Sling TV to sports friends without them looking at me sideways.

A bunch of channels have free on-demand stuff for popular shows, and Sling says more is coming. That could be great for when I can’t find something to watch on live TV.

[B]No Like[/B]

My TV has a bunch of (well, two) toddler channels on it now, and I don’t want them. Why can’t anybody respect my adult interest in children’s cartoons? It’s not weird! You’re weird!

I love how the menu looks, but navigating it is a pain in the ass. It took me a week to find one of Sling TV’s key features. What the hell, man?

Some channels don’t allow you to pause, rewind or fast-forward live TV. That’s fine. Those same channels’ on-demand programming also blocks fast-forwarding, rewinding and pausing. That’s ridiculous.

It doesn’t replace my broadcast TV antenna: major networks like NBC, CBS, FOX and ABC just aren’t available.

Speaking of three-lettered networks, where’s my HBO? (Yes, I know a standalone package is in the works but still.)

Watching commercials on my phone is a really weird experience.

When my internet connection is bad, so is my TV experience.

Reruns (I forgot about those) and the slow, creeping realization that every moment I spend watching Sling TV could probably be put to better use doing chores, exercising or pursuing a less passive hobby. Everything my mother warned me about is coming to pass.

And a little bit about availability:

When can you get it? Soon: Sling TV will be sending out invitations to pre-registered customers later this week, and plans to open general registration early next month. If you have a supported device (you know, any iOS or Android device, a Roku, an Amazon Fire TV or TV Stick, an Xbox One or an LG or Samsung Smart TV) you can try it free for a week. Just like any good drug, your first hit is free.


Engadget has a preview up as well. I have to say, ESPN access aside, it sounds pretty disappointing, at least to a Brit. The hit-or-miss DVR stuff is crazy in this day and age. Functionality-wise it’s barely an improvement from the Slingbox I had 10 years ago, and the channel selection is much worse (not to mention the ongoing subscription cost).

All that said, if you want ESPN but nothing else, it’s probably a good deal.


Yay, livetv. It’s like the future, if the future was 1998 before TiVo released.


I’d be kind of tempted if they were launching on Xbox One now instead of next month. Since I’d want to see the coverage of the Australian Open. Btw, I read in a review that getting Sling TV does give you access to the ESPN app/ESPN3. So basically that’s all you need. Same as I got cable right now just to get access to HBO Go. Once you have access to HBO Go, there’s no need to actually watch live HBO. Similarly, there’s no need to watch live ESPN, as long as you have access to their app/online website through your phone, Xbox, etc.


Got an email from Sling today saying I can sign up…if I call their 800 number to do it, and if I want to use a Mac/Android/iOS device. Really? No online signup? And no ability to use a Windows PC (which is what my TV is hooked up to)? Think I’ll pass until they’ve gotten their infrastructure a bit more stable.

Of course, if ESPN actually had anything I wanted to watch (hockey) instead of being all basketball all the time until April, I’d probably be willing to hook up my Mac to the TV and do it anyway. But as it is, I’ll give them some time to mature the product a bit.


“Buggy whip sales are down 20%! Solution… raise prices 20% to compensate! That will surely work!”


I got my invite too but having to talk to a human to sign up kills it for me.