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Listener Review: Sling TV on AppleTV

From time to time our isteners will send us an email that we want to share but is a little too long to read on the show. So we post them here in the News and More section of the podcast. Ed Stouffer decided to try out the Sling TV app on the AppleTV 4. Here are his comments:
I finally took some time to try out Sling TV on my Apple TV. Here's what I found:

Activation (or not)

To get the 7 day free trial, you have to still supply a credit card, etc. I did all of that, it said something like "Woo Hoo, you're ready to go" Uh, no.
I logged into the Apple TV and got error after error. Lots of numbers, but no explanation. Trailers would play but Guide and other functions failed. I looked at their forums, and none of the error codes were documented. Great. I called them and yes, in only about 5-6 minutes, I got an agent. My credit card was not on file.... He said that "sometimes this happens, and you have to call us." I said that it would have been much better if the Apple TV just told me that, rather than errors without description.... 5 minutes later and ready to do. I did the Orange + Blue to try it all.

Streaming (or not)

So within about 3-4 minutes, I see the channel guide, listings of what's on (by category), etc. and it's looking much, much better. I figure let's try something simple - watch CNBC, so I can compare with the live broadcast from my MSO. 30 seconds looking OK, 60 seconds OK, 90 seconds - freezing, pixilation, awful. So, switch TV to other input for live broadcast and...picture looks great. Switch back to Apple TV. Still awful, I mean really bad. OK, check Internet: I have 80M down/20M up on fiber. Speedtest using the Apple TV shows downstream at 56 Mb/s, upstream at 18 Mb/s. It is Friday night, but still. I also did a force quit on all other apps. No improvement, no kidding.
Here's the clincher. Opened the CNBC Apple TV app and went to live stream. Worked well. Switched back and forth to Sling TV App. Sling TV still wretched.

On demand

OK, let's say this may be a result of something with the live stream. Let's try an on demand item. Or two. Or three. Still wretched.
Take 2
Saturday afternoon. Servers shouldn't be quite so busy. Let's try again. First TNT...mediocre. Then Comedy Central. Uh no. OK, found a program I can restart from the beginning. Unless the beginning is a spinning circle, that's not working at all. (They are trying to get people to PAY for this, right?!)
Take 3 (Maybe I'm bad luck, have the Aesthetics Committee try it)
Early Saturday evening. After a few minutes of explaining why someone would want this, she's off with the remote and swiping away. Rather than the blow-by-blow, let's say she wanted to come to blows with the service. OK, maybe it's the Apple TV. Let's try an alternate device - iPad mini (original, oldest, slowest mini, a fraction of the power of the Apple TV CPU). Works reasonably well...a few defects 5 minutes in. Back to Apple TV. C'mon - still wretched. Off to Tech Support. Restart the Apple TV. Check the settings. Run tests. Nothing conclusive. Still looks awful. They get back on the line and are "investigating an issue." I say fine, investigate away, it's now Saturday night and I plan to actually watch TV, not troubleshoot it.
Take 4
Monday evening. Let's try TBS. Family Guy. Looking promising and....freeze 10 minutes in. Trying another channel. App hung. Completely. Have to force quit. Let's check the old iPad again. Looking pretty good.


Maybe your mileage will vary. For me, this isn't even a stable BETA and no, I would never pay for this. I was hoping to find a way to explain the issues - overloaded servers, congestion, problems with my Internet, and in the end I can't justify wasting more time on this. Again, this was about an option for my Apple TV, and today, this is NOT IT.
Ed Stouffer 


Reader Comments (3)

I've been using this on my Xbox One for about a month now and I'm satisfied but not blown away by it. It's worth the $25 for Orange for me compared to what I was paying for U-Verse. Occasionally I do get some pixelation and the Xbox app does not work as well as the Windows 10 app. On 10 there are absolutely no issues. I beleive the Xbox and Apple TV app after seeing your review are flawed and hopefully will be fixed. I have an unusual login problem that they cannot figure out that is bothersome but not a deal breaker. I have two xbox one's with two live accounts both use the same Sling account info. Sometimes the login info is lost on a console after the Sling app has been used on the other console so we are having to login sometimes and other times not. They gave me some steps to use that fixed it for awhile but it started again. Not a perfect solution but i'm saving $125 by using Sling, Hulu Plus and OTA instead of U-Verse. When they get the app working better I'll give them more praise but for now I recommend them.

July 26, 2016 | Unregistered CommenterStephen

Coincidentally we just cut the cord a couple of weeks ago and are using Sling TV for "cable" channels and a Tablo DVR as an OTA solution. Of the two I would say that we are most happy with the Sling TV and app on an Apple TV. It really hasn't given us any problems and works as advertised. I have also used it on my iPad and through the computer app on my Mac Pro. I honestly don't think that I've had to wait a full 30 seconds for a show to start. We watched a lot of the political conventions over the last couple of weeks (sorry, but my wife teaches government to it was necessary), try to catch PTI on ESPN every couple of days, and I've watched a couple of on demand episodes of American Pickers in addition to general "channel surfing." I have no doubt whatsoever that Ed is having the problems that he described above, but I did want folks to know that for me for some reason it works. I am on relatively slow DSL as well (that's all that's available out here in our rural area) so I don't have any explanation to offer as to why ours is working so much better. The Tablo TV on the other hand is a truly excellent idea and we generally like it, but it clearly has its issues. But that's another story . . .

August 1, 2016 | Unregistered CommenterSam

I've been using Sling TV on Apple TV for about two weeks now, different hours of the day, sometimes live, sometime streaming their content. I like the content, price and I'm getting used to the navigation, but I would say it works about 85-90% of the time without issues. Other times I get blips of buffering, twice it has locked up completely and I had to unplug/replug my Apple TV to free it up, sometimes I'm unable to start a show from where I left off and have to start over again, commercials suddenly jump into a show for a second or two, then disappear - only to show up at the next commercial break. Some shows (DIY for example) have people still talking at the end of the show and they are cut off. Still like my Sling TV and will keep it, but I would really love some improvements to their video stability. Live TV seems to work well. Would love to be able to pause live TV better - if you pause for example - 3 minutes, it typically just moves on to the next show at the end of the scheduled timeframe and you miss the end of the show. I like the lack of commercials on some of their older streaming content. My Netflix works pretty perfectly, so there are just some kinks to work out on Sling and hopefully they will keep improving their platform.

August 2, 2016 | Unregistered CommenterMac

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