Cord cutting is an interesting phenomena in the television space these days.

With historically low customer satisfaction rates for the no longer merging Comcast and Time Warner Cable, subscribers are exploring options to enhance or completely change their TV viewing.

Some would argue that on-demand streaming services are a great supplement. However, Dish has stepped into the new arena of Internet television with their Sling TV service. They aren’t aiming to supplement cable TV, though. They want to replace it. How realistic is that goal?

Looking purely at the viewing options, Sling TV is a decent service. Its base package includes fluff channels like HGTV, Food Network and the Travel Channel, in addition to cable mainstays like ESPN 1 & 2 and AMC. That means you can get your high-quality TV show fix without having to spring for one of the extended packages.

They aren’t aiming to supplement cable TV … they want to replace it.

If you decide to buy every single extended package (including expanded sports, movie, kids, news and more), you can easily come close to spending the same amount you would on traditional cable.

When your online cable budget starts approaching your old cable budget, you run into issues you don’t with the streaming services. For roughly $25 a month, you can have access to Netflix, Hulu and Amazon Prime. This covers your need to stay current on network TV shows and gives you a ridiculous library of other content, some exclusive, that will keep you busy indefinitely.

It’s all on demand, too. Unfortunately, Sling TV’s On Demand offerings are more of a catchup service than a replacement for your DVR. Channels that do offer content at any time usually don’t go back more than three days, which is a deal breaker compared to cable’s DVR and on-demand offerings.

Add massive blocks of time where a channel like A&E doesn’t allow ANY of its content to be streamed and you now have a significantly inferior service to traditional cable.

There’s always a learning curve when you use a new service.

In terms of usability, the service is pretty much the same across any platform. This is one area where Sling TV deserves high marks. There’s always a learning curve when you use a new service.  Having an interface experience that is the same across computers, streaming devices and gaming consoles is fantastic. It makes everything feel less intimidating.

The main problem is that Sling TV doesn’t know who its demographic is. As a longtime cord cutter, I don’t see it as a viable replacement for my streaming services at roughly the same cost. I would imagine it doesn’t appeal much to the cable TV watcher either. It doesn’t have as many channels and costs about the same when you figure in all the add-on packages. Sling TV has undoubtedly improved since its start, but it still has a long way to go before it defines itself as a must-have service.

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