INCYMI, the Pac-12 Networks announced on Sept. 8 a new streaming partnership with Sling TV. CF.C purchased a Sling TV subscription the same day. We have been trying it out ever since -- particular when it comes to the Pac-12 Nets.
If you don't want to get your geek on and just want the bottom line on whether you should consider trying it out or not, scroll down towards the end of this article for our verdict. For the tech nerds still reading, welcome. We salute you.
I tested Sling TV on a wireless connection of 30 Mbps upstream, 30 Mbps downstream. The hardware used was a Roku 1.
My FIOS router provides solid, consistent wireless all over the house. But latency (how long it takes data to travel between its source and destination) can render any fast connection meek, so I tested in a variety of ways to make sure I was indeed getting strong throughput at the Roku downstairs from the router upstairs. And even though I was getting an excellent signal, for good measure, I disconnected the Roku, took it upstairs and connected to the HDTV in the office - a mere 12 feet away from the router, line of sight. I got the same quality at each TV.
On live action such as a football game on the Pac-12 Nets, it wasn't quite full HD. But it was a more than reasonable enough facsimile in my book.
The frame rate on streaming live action wasn't quite as smooth as the close-up shots were (less movement). Some shots were a little softer. I noticed at times slight distortion in the lines on the field, etc. And in poking around all my settings, and testing over several days, I concluded Sling TV wasn't utilizing all the bandwidth being provided through my router and to the Roku.
But was it a pleasant experience watching the Pac-12 Networks? Absolutely. Did I, from my couch, smile and give DirecTV the finger a few times while watching the Cougs beat Idaho on my HDTV? Indeed, I did.
The Sling TV interface is acceptable - I have a few nitpicks but most everyone is going to have some when it comes to interface. Meanwhile, on a Sling TV stream, you can pause live action, and fast forward and rewind. But it's not as advanced as you're used to on a DVR. If you've used FF/RW on Netflix or Amazon Prime, it's similar. The response time using my Roku remote was at times stilted. And when I went too fast in punching things out like FF, REW, Pause, it did freeze up on me a couple times.
If you come to a live broadcast late on the Pac-12 Nets, it does give you the option to start from the beginning -- which is nice.
There is no DVR/PVR included, and that is disappointing. Sling TV does, however, archive some channels' content for three days and the P12Nets looks to be one of them. Today, for example, you can pull up on demand the WSU-Stanford soccer match from Thursday night. And of course, you can catch the Pac-12 channels' rebroadcasting of games and 60-minute recaps when they air.
The cost can vary depending on package: The Pac-12 Networks is available in the add-on sports pack. So if you purchase the Orange option, your total cost is $25/month. The Blue option will cost you $35 to effectively add the Pac-12 Nets. Note: You also need a piece of hardware, either a Roku LT or higher, Apple TV 4th generation, XBox One, etc. The full list of Sling TV hardware options is found HERE.
Sling TV advises a constant speed of 5 Megabits per second or more for a single stream of video content to a TV, PC or Mac. If you have a busy, connected household using the internet on multiple devices at the same time, they suggest a constant speed of 25 Megabits per second or more.
Bottom line: It's a satisfying viewing experience to watch Cougar games on the Pac-12 Nets on Sling TV.
And it's worth $25/month to me to add the Pac-12 Nets and especially when considering this: This Saturday will be the third WSU game on the Pac-12 Nets this season. Last year, there were six. The year before, in 2014, WSU had seven games on the Pac-12 Nets.
From a personal preference, watching a Pac-12 Networks stream on a big screen HDTV is far preferable to watching that same stream on my computer or mobile device.
Final thought for Cougar fans thinking about cutting the cord: Non-live sports on other channels displayed sharply for me on Sling TV. I switched back and forth between DirecTV and Sling TV in viewing a drama on AMC at the same time and the quality was virtually identical -- there wasn't much difference between DirecTV satellite and Sling TV streaming for me in that regard.
The problem with cutting the cord with Sling TV: It does not offer your local channels.
If you live in, say Seattle, you should be in good range of the towers, you could purchase a decent indoor OTA antenna for $30 or less and probably pick up all your locals in free, glorious HD. But if you're, say, a couple hours north of Seattle, you might only be able to pick up one OTA channel and zero of the local networks. (But boy do I sure learn something, every single time, from that oil painter guy with the perm).
And Sling TV does offer additional purchase options like HBO, Cinemax, Starz, other bundles (as well as pay-per-view movies) etc. But at some point, you'd be paying as much as you were before cutting the cord. And the whole point of cutting the cord for most people is to get rid of the countless channels they don't watch, pay less in doing so, and still enjoy a rock solid HD viewing experience.
Your house, surrounding terrain, broadband connection and wireless, hardware -- all of these things and more can determine how good a streaming experience you would have with Sling TV. They do offer a 7-day trial, so you can try it out and then cancel if it doesn't work for you. One word of caution if you also choose the option to pay for three months in advance in order to receive a free Roku 2. They ship it out promptly so, understandably, your free 7 days are added after the three months you've paid for. (Otherwise, people would cancel in 7 days but keep the Roku 2).
For some would-be Cougar fan cord cutters, Sling TV paired with a service like Netflix and/or Amazon Prime and/or Hulu, etc. would be a good choice and one that would save them money. For others, based on their needs and preferences, it wouldn't be the right choice. To see the channels offered by Sling TV in the Orange and Blue packages, as well as the add-ons, CLICK HERE.
If you have any questions, post 'em on the CF.C message board and we'll try to answer.
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