April 13th, 2015
Streaming times were a bit rocky last night for the premieres of Game of Thrones Season 5 and Silicon Valley Season 2 — though HBO Now streaming has been shaky since the get-go, so this isn’t necessarily a surprise — but Sling customers are certainly happy about adding the most popular premium TV service in the country for a mere $15 dollars — and free for a week for new subscribers.Â
Tech Crunch covers the debut issues, which are likely only temporary as with most new streaming services: “Now the company has stumbled again, it seems. During last nightâ€™s premier of HBOâ€™s â€œGame of Thrones,â€Â manyÂ Sling TV subscribers were unable to load the appÂ on their Roku devices”
Sling TV has the enviable position of being one of the few places where internet users canÂ legally watch HBO content without a cable TV or satellite subscription.Â Along with Apple and Cablevision, which are both providing customers with access to HBO NOW, the networkâ€™s over-the-top service for cord cutters.
With Sling TVâ€™s HBO package, customers can watch linear streams plus a video-on-demand option thatâ€™s a lot like what cable TV providers offer today.Â But unlike cable TV, Sling TVâ€™s promise â€“ beyond the ability to subscribe to programming packages a la carte at reduced rates â€“ is that those channels can be viewed over the internet on a range of devices, including the Roku, Xbox One, Fire TV, PC and Mac desktop, and iOS and Android.
But while Sling TV has the advantage of being one of the early entrantsÂ in the streaming space with access toÂ channels and content that haveÂ few â€“ if any â€“ other streaming options available (like the ESPN channels, for example), its glitches prove that the reliability of internet-only TV services like this are still in question.
With traditional cable TV, outages and errors are rare, but with the over-the-top services, they seem to be more common. Even HBO GO, the networkâ€™s app for cable TV providers that lets them stream the content to smaller screens, was affected last night during the â€œGame of Thronesâ€ premiere. The companyâ€™s Twitter feed was fielding a number of complaints from users who werenâ€™t able to watch HBO GO, most often via their Xbox One consoles.
HBO NOW, however, didnâ€™t crash under last nightâ€™s influx of new viewers, which is a notable first step for the new service.
In Sling TVâ€™s defense, itÂ didÂ perform better than during the Final Four games, likely thanks to the earlierÂ improvementsÂ it made to the way it managed load and handled new customer sign-ups, among other things. But even if the issues wereÂ limited to one app â€“ the Roku app, in this case â€“ itâ€™s this sort of flakiness that could cause customers to think twice about whether or not theyâ€™re ready to cut the cord at all.
(Here’s where it gets interesting though: you can’t use the HBO Go app as a Sling customer (Sling says you shouldn’t need to since everything’s right in its own app), but the company is upping the number of simultaneous streams it’s allowing. ButÂ onlyÂ for HBO. Normally Sling TV enforces a single-stream limit, so you’re restricted to watching it on one device at all times. But you’ll be able to stream HBO on up to three devices simultaneously. This is probably a modest attempt on Dish’s part to make up for the lack of proper HBO Go support. Sling saysÂ this new multi-stream functionality will be added to customer accounts “on a rolling basis starting today.”)