I Want My PTV!

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Before I begin I want to give an update on the last column I wrote. Sadly, Ashleigh’s appeal was denied and she wasn’t able to get back her Venus Envy gamertag. Needless to say I am very disappointed with the results. I was really hoping that it would be restored, but hopefully once more people hear about this type of censorship, they will be prepared to fight against it. I will be keeping a close eye.
But for now, let’s get to the topic at hand.

For the longest time I considered being a “cable cutter.” What that means is someone who breaks free from the stranglehold of cable or satellite television. At my previous location, I was a subscriber of DIRECTV since 2003. However, over the years, with the exception of watching baseball, football, hockey and wrestling, my television watching had severely wanted. Unfortunately I was stuck with long term contracts, especially when I wanted to upgrade my receiver. Going from standard definition to HD, then an HD DVR, and finally their Genie DVR. With each new unit meant a new two-year contract.

The monthly costs were also getting out of hand. By the start of this year my monthly cost was in the range of $120. It was made worse come baseball season where I had to pay an additional $35/month for MLB Extra Innings. It just got out of hand, and when I had to move out I was still in the middle of my Genie contract, so I still have to pay $400 to finish off my contract. Trust me with the move, a car payment, and all my bills it’s a very difficult process for me. I don’t know how I am able to do it.

But I can’t live without watching what I enjoy. And with my new location I lucked out by having high speed cable internet, but the television service is very basic. So for my room I had to come up with a few ideas. The first I considered was hooking up an over the air antenna to my Xbox One, but the signal quality was way below acceptable. Thankfully I was able to return the antenna and adapter for a refund.

So my next idea was to try out a streaming service. I heard a lot about Sling TV and considered adding it to my Xbox One. The offer looked pretty good, and it had a couple channels that I needed to have, the most important one being El Rey, which I needed because of Lucha Underground (which if you’re a wrestling fan, you must watch immediately.) Most importantly for me, I noticed that it was going to get CSN-Mid-Atlantic, which I needed for all the Caps games, but it was listed as “coming soon.” All of the basic channels available came out to about $40. However I had to get two extra additions at $5 each, one being the comedy plus which added Spike among several other channels, and the sports plus service which recently added NHL Network. Even better, I was able to watch on my laptop or my cell phone. In the end the total cost ended up being $50. So I gave it a try, and for the start I was happy with it, until I noticed all the streaming and buffering issues that the Xbox One app had.

Fortunately for me, I also own a Roku 1, and when I started with Sling TV, the streaming worked ok. It too had buffering issues, but nowhere near as bad. But in the last week or two, the streaming issues got worse, to the point where the Roku app would be stuck at a black screen with an orange circle of doom. Even after uninstalling the app, restarting my Roku, and reinstalling the app, I still had issues to the point where I had to complain on Facebook about all the issues, and found out I was not the only one.

Of course when I made my complaints I got the same old, same old robo reply of “we have no information at this time.” Same was said about why CSN was not added, with the “we have no information” reply. They even told me to check my internet connection, which it couldn’t be because I was streaming at high quality (which values at 2.8 Mb/sec on a 100 Mb/sec connection, which handles other streaming services without any problem whatsoever.) It infuriated me to the point where I filed a complaint with the Better Business Bureau, to which Sling replied by offering me a $10 discount each month for the next six months to prevent me from quitting. If it weren’t for El Rey, I would have quit in an instant and go over other options.

In the meantime, I tried another alternate service that I never thought I’d ever consider: PlayStation Vue. I know, I know, Mr. Xbot is trying out a PlayStation service. I hear it all the time. But with a seven day free trial I figured why not. After looking at the channel lineup, I saw it not only had CSN up and running, but also CSN Plus in case CSN decided their beloved Wizards were more important to show. It was on the mid-tier package called Core, which featured over 70 channels for only $35. Sadly, El Rey is not on the package, nor on their higher tier Elite service.

Believe me, if El Rey was on there, I would have made the switch in an instant. While I am not able to watch on my phone or laptop, meaning I can only watch on the Roku as I don’t have a PS4 for the time being, I have been very happy with the stream quality. During the week trial, I may have had the app buffer only a total of three times. The Sling app would have done those three times in just a minute. I am very happy with it, and at the time of this writing, the trial will end in ten minutes. I will be adding it for another month so I can have CSN and CSN Plus. I only hope that they allow mobile streaming, and add El Rey to their package.

As for Sling, I will be keeping it because of the discounted offer, but they really need to work on their app and getting more channels added, because for right now, PS Vue is the better value. Never thought I’d ever say that about a Sony product.

Currently Playing: Sid Meier’s Civilization VI (PC) Skyrim Special Edition (PC)

Waiting For: Titanfall 2 (Xbox One,) Dishonored 2 (Xbox One)

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