Broken TV gives chance to try new streaming service

As we near the halfway point of 2015 we continue to see new threats emerging in the digital world. To provide you with valuable tips, the Internet Street Smarts series will continue to be interspersed between issues.

Threats aside, there are countless benefits that can be reaped from utilizing digital world tools. As discussed earlier this spring, one of them is what is known as “cutting the cord.” Simply put it often refers to getting live TV programming through the internet instead of the traditional duopoly of cable TV or satellite services.

I had an opportunity recently to test out the SlingTV service from Dish Network. Although Dish Network, like its main competitor DirecTV, delivers TV programming via satellite, SlingTV is a streaming service that delivers programming through the internet. Streaming live TV programming is a nascent industry so the landscape is changing almost daily to give consumers more options.

Imagine our dismay when our TV gave up the ghost right when the series against Chicago Bulls started. Our spirits were further dampened when we learned that tickets to the “Watch Party” at The Q were sold out. Long story short, my friend invited us over to watch on his SlingTV!

Although I was interested to see the Cavs trounce the Bulls, I was equally interested in how well SlingTV performed. For reference his internet subscription gave him 15Mbps (megabits per second) download and 1Mps upload speeds. Other factors affect the quality of the live programming streamed to your TV. For example the number of simultaneously active internet connected devices in your household or how congested the internet or the site you are visiting is, just to name a few.

I was pleasantly surprised with what I saw. Earlier this spring, SlingTV had its share of challenges, most famously during March Madness, when they miscalculated the demands of their new subscribers tuning into a semifinals game resulting in the inability for many to watch the second half of that game.

Needless to say they must have learned their lesson as games 2 and 3 of the series played nicely on his TV. There were about four times during each game where the programming froze for about 15 to 20 seconds each time. There were also some moments where the audio was out of sync but only noticeable during commercials or half-time shows. To be fair, though, I could not be certain whether it was the limit of my friend's internet speed or some other limiting factor.

Personally, though, those occasional hiccups didn’t faze me. If I were to complement my ever-continuing cutting the cord adventure with a subscription to SlingTV and/or other “a la carte” programming (i.e. pay only for the channels I choose to watch) that should become available in the near future, I may opt to increase the speed of my internet service to compensate for more 0’s and 1’s traveling through the internet pipe to our house.

Tak Sato

Business and technology strategist/consultant with 25 years of experience. Holds Bachelor of Science in Computer Information Science and MBA from Cleveland State University.

As founder of geek with a heart, "Hand-holding You in the Digital World", Tak helps Individuals, Seniors, Families, Small Businesses, Schools, and Non-Profits utilize appropriate technology in their personal and professional lives.

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Volume 7, Issue 11, Posted 9:23 AM, 06.02.2015