Sling TV hits Xbox One, with a free month of live-TV service

Starting Tuesday, Xbox One owners will be able to stream live TV to their consoles using Sling TV. The streaming service is looking to 'cut the cord to cable companies,' but there are a few drawbacks.

Jae C. Hong/AP/File
Sling TV CEO Roger Lynch demonstrates Sling TV, a live television streaming service. The Sling TV option, an online alternative with fewer channels and a lower price tag than Dish Network's regular service, is aimed at people who have dropped their cable or satellite packages or never had either.

Beginning Tuesday, the Xbox One will officially offer Sling TV. In a deal announced back in January, the Microsoft gaming hardware will be the first and (currently) only console to stream live, “over-the-top” television.

Sling TV wants subscribers to cut the cord with cable providers. Instead of forcing consumers to sign expensive contracts, Sling TV is looking to be a customizable cable supplier for anyone tired of dealing with bloated bundle packages. The streaming application from DISH Network was unveiled at this year’s Consumer Electronics Show to rave reviews.

Current Xbox One owners who pay for Xbox Live will be treated to one month of free service after downloading the app, and the first 5,000 Americans to buy a new Xbox One console between Tuesday and March 22 will receive three months free.

While Sling TV wants customers to “Take Back TV," users are not in complete control. Subscribers are required to choose from smaller, more focused bundles.

The basic “Best of Live TV” package is $20 a month and features 17 channels, including ESPN, TNT, TBS, AMC, Adult Swim, and Disney Channel. By the end of the month, the standard package will be bumped up to 20 channels and include A&E, History, H2, and Lifetime.

All add-on packages cost an additional $5 per month. Customers may choose from bundles such as “Sports Extra,” “Kids Extra,” “Hollywood Extra,” “World News Extra,” and “Lifestyle Extra.” 

Early reviewers pointed out a few restrictions to the streaming service that could become annoying. Though certain channels offer video-on-demand content and DVR features such as pause or rewind, many channels forgo these luxuries and left some reviewers feeling as if they were stuck in the 2000s.

Licensing agreements also can be disruptive. For example, when Engadget’s Richard Lawler attempted to watch the Pro Bowl on his smart phone in January, he found his service blocked. While the Pro Bowl could be streamed on a tablet or TV with no problem, the NFL has exclusive mobile contracts that Sling TV cannot get around.

Sling TV plans to be available on Android TV soon, but there is no word on if it is developing an app for Apple TV or Chromecast.

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