Now that we finally have a two-horse race in the Cable-Through-Internet business, Dish Network’s Sling TV should be stepping up its game if it wants to hold its own against Sony’s Playstation Vue. As our review pointed out, there are just too many advantages to ignore, even with a price that’s $10 higher.
This week Sling finally announced an upgrade: it can now handle three streams at once from the same account, as opposed to the single-stream service it’s been until now. There’s just one catch: the multi-stream is a separate plan entirely, and switching to it means giving up ESPN.
Don’t blame Dish for this, blame Disney — they see a multi-stream ESPN for $20 too much of a threat to the big cable bottom line, and they were the bottleneck that prevented more than one stream from being allowed on Sling in the first place. Sling’s workaround is this: they can’t put ESPN in the multi-stream plan, but they CAN fill the hole with other channels: the Fox-owned networks that have been missing from the service until now.
Right now with Sling you can have ESPN, Disney Channel and Freeform, or you can have Fox Sports, FX, and National Geographic — but never both at once. And Viacom is still not playing ball with Sling, leaving an absence of Nickelodeon and MTV from all plans. Somehow, Sony had no problem locking down all three companies for a deal that cost consumers a base price of $30 in most areas. What gives?
One nut neither streaming service has cracked is how to deliver local channels. Sony says they’re working on a solution, but I hope it’s better than what Dish is reportedly considering: an antenna. No, really. A leak revealed the development of something called an AirTV box that pipes in local feeds to the Sling app, but only from over-the-air signals….which, if you can’t receive as-is, isn’t going to help you. And if you CAN get free local stations, you can do so without Sling. This feels like giving up to me.
Add to this there is still no talk of a DVR, and Sony is just killing these people. Dish really needs to get its act together or its latest venture won’t last long.