ESPN Without Cable? You Got It

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Cable-hating sports lovers have something big to celebrate. They can finally enjoy all the live sports they want on ESPN without ponying up for a cable or satellite TV subscription.

For $20 a month, you can sign up for Sling TV, Dish Network’s new Web-based TV service, which comes with 12 major channels, including ESPN, as well as CNN, Food Network, HGTV, and the Disney Channel, Slate reports. The service includes live and video-on-demand shows.

The service is expected to launch by March, according to a Dish Network press release. And signing up is easy. All you need is a broadband connection. The press release says:

“Live television, including ESPN, for $20 per month with no commitment or contract, is a game changer,” said Roger Lynch, CEO of Sling TV. “The arrival of Sling TV lets consumers, who’ve embraced services like Netflix and Hulu, take more control of their video entertainment experience.”

But before you ditch your cable subscription, there are a few things you should consider. Re/code said there are a few catches to Sling TV, including:

  • Limited viewing. Because Sling TV is a personal subscription service, “if you want to watch football and your roommates want to watch a ‘Law & Order’ rerun, someone’s out of luck,” Re/code said.
  • TV connection. It’s easy to watch Sling TV’s channels via the Web on your laptop, but watching it on your TV is another story. If you don’t have a smart TV that supports Sling TV at the launch, you’ll need some sort of device – like a Roku box or an Xbox One – to get the Web-based TV to your actual television, Re/code writes.
  • No local networks. You can’t watch any local news or local Sunday NFL games with Sling TV. Of course, you can rectify this situation by purchasing an antenna.

In addition to its 12-channel lineup, Sling TV also offers add-on channel bundles, like a kids pack or a news and information pack, at $5 a pop. “Sling TV expects to expand its core package, video-on-demand content, online video and add-on packs throughout 2015,” the Dish press release says.

It’s too early to know what impact Sling TV will have on cable subscriptions. Slate writes:

Sling TV will not, by itself, kill off cable, any more than Aereo did (before the Supreme Court ruled it illegal). It’s an early and pretty rudimentary offering.

Even so, it will come as a damaging broadside to a pay-TV industry that has largely managed to keep live sports off the Web as a stick with which to keep would-be cord-cutters on board.

In December, HBO announced it would launch a stand-alone streaming service in 2015, before the start of a new season of “Game of Thrones.”

What do you think of Sling TV’s offerings? Is it enough to get you to dump cable? Share your thoughts below or on our Facebook page.

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