Back up is arriving just as Microsoft’s Xbox One entertainment console is getting all sorts of new competitors for its living room digital media crown. This morning the company announced that the Sling TV app and service that it announced earlier this year is finally available.
Microsoft revealed the arrival of Sling TV on Xbox One this morning in a post on its Xbox Wire blog. Sling TV is made up of two parts, a digital app for the Xbox One and a service that connects to the app over the internet. Together, the app and service are the only thing Xbox One users need to get live television and on-demand streaming without having to subscribe to a big cable package and sign a two-year service agreement.
Microsoft says that the Sling TV app for the Xbox One offers all of the perks that users have come to expect from apps on the console. Like all apps made for the Xbox One, Sling TV can be pinned directly to the Xbox One home screen for quick access. In addition to that, Microsoft says that the app supports voice commands and gestures. The Xbox One uses the Kinect 2 sensor to let users switch between games or access apps with their voice. Gestures are there so that users can navigate their favorite entertainment apps without having to pick up a controller. Both sets of controls are important here because Sling and Microsoft are hoping that the service will appeal to normal users and not just gamers.
What’s more, Microsoft says users will be able to snap the Sling TV on Xbox One app directly to the side of their display while they play games. App snapping is important. It’s one of the remaining app-specific advantages the Xbox One has over Sony’s PS4 video game and entertainment console. Microsoft’s post doesn’t say anything about integration with the Xbox One’s OneGuide menu. OneGuide stitches together live television and on-demand video services into one view.
Normally, signing up for Sling TV would cost users $20 a month, but Microsoft and Sling have teamed up for some limited time savings. Anyone who hasn’t purchased an Xbox One yet can do so at the Microsoft Store until March 22nd and get three months of Sling TV free. Additionally, any users with Xbox Live can try the service free for a single month.
The Sling TV service is designed to completely replace your cable subscription. In fact, the service runs like a traditional cable operator. $20 gets users a very basic set of livestream channels and on-demand video content for users to watch directly through their console or web browser. Sling TV subscribers add-on new channels by purchasing small packs of channels. For example, Sports Extra gets users access to ESPN and other channels. Two other Sling TV channel packs tailor-made for children and news lovers are $5 on top of the $20 fee. Sling TV subscribers also get access to a wide range of on-demand programs.
Being able to bolt on additional packages allows users to get something akin to a cable subscription without the negatives. Subscribers can cancel Sling TV any time they want. Additionally, users don’t have to pay for additional equipment like they do with cable.
The kicker here is that Microsoft was able to lockdown an exclusive on the service. For the time being, the Xbox One will be the only video game console that supports Sling TV. Presumably, it’ll come to other simple set-top boxes, but that’s still very much unclear at this point.
It is clear that Microsoft has just solved a threat looming on the horizon. Sony has been building a live streaming television service of its own for months. Called PlayStation Vue, it almost looked as if Sony would take the lead in the fight for living room entertainment.
Users can download Sling TV directly from the Xbox Store right now. Again, after the free trial the service will cost $20 a month.