June 2020

My Road to Marshmallow

Almost a year ago today, George reached out to me asking for my thoughts on a new business venture he was starting. As a web developer, I can’t tell you how many times people have come to me with the next “Facebook,” or propositioned me to build their website for some vague promise of fame and glory down the road. George was different though. He had a clear, concise plan for how we were not just going to build a successful business, but truly help people untangle themselves from cable companies. 

It’s somewhat funny that George approached me for Marshmallow Streaming, because I’ve been a cord cutter for the better part of four years. I remember all the hoops I had to jump through to get the exact content I wanted, and I of course recall the terrible phone calls to the cable company to cancel service and keep my monthly fees low. Little did I know, this would be the perfect test run for what would later become my job. And as great as it was to figure out all the tricks to save myself money, it’s even more fulfilling when I get to show our customers.

In this past year, we’ve learned a lot about what it takes to run a successful company. Now, I look forward to everything the next year will bring and the new opportunities we will achieve for both ourselves and our customers. I would like to thank all of you for being a part of our first successful and insightful year at Marshmallow Streaming.
 

Christopher Maciejczyk, Co-Founder & CTO

Sling TV Review


By Don Corwin, friend of Marshmallow Streaming
 
In February 2015, Sling TV shocked the cable TV world by becoming the first subscription-based streaming service available in the market. It was a truly disruptive service that offered most of your favorite cable TV shows at a fraction of the price of a basic cable package. While Sling was the “leader in the clubhouse” so to speak, they seem to have rested on their laurels when it comes to innovation and updates.
Pricing 5/5
Let's start with the good: SlingTV offers some of the best budget-friendly packages in the market. Their basic packages, Sling Orange and Sling Blue, can both be purchased on their own for $30/month, or you can have both with their premier package for $45/month. The major difference between the two packages centers around which TV channels are important to you, as well as how many simultaneous streams you require. Sling Orange allows for one stream while Sling Blue allows for three. Sling Orange+Blue allows for up to four simultaneous streams. Unlike other providers, you cannot create more than one viewing profile. So all preferred channels and interface customizations are shared across streams.

Product Compatibility: 5/5

The best ability is availability, and SlingTV embraces that model. SlingTV is available on almost any streaming device:

  • Web browsers (Chrome, Safari)

  • iPhone and iPads (iOS 11 and later)

  • Most Android phones and tablets (OS KitKat 4.4 and later)

  • Apple TV (4th gen and later)

  • Roku (LT and higher)

  • Smart TVs (LG, Samsung, Roku, Fire TV, Vizio and select Android TVs)

  • Fire TV (all models)

  • Fire tablets (Android OS 4.4.2 and later)

  • Select Chromebook devices

  • All Chromecast devices

  • Google Nest Hub and Nest Hub Max

  • Oculus Go (3.54 or later)

  • Xbox One, Xbox One S and Xbox One X

Most notably absent from this list is the PlayStation 4, which is only compatible with YouTube TV.

Interface: 2/5

SlingTV has failed to make any drastic updates or changes to its interface in recent years, which is odd given the highly competitive market. For myself, I like a nice slick interface that eliminates unnecessary clicks. If you want to watch an NBA game on ESPN, it takes five clicks to get through their interface to get the game streaming. It feels clunky, outdated and overly complicated compared to some of the main competitors in the market like HuluTV or YouTube TV. In fact, I find that about 75% of the home page is completely useless, and in some cases, highlights TV shows and movies that either aren’t currently streaming or aren’t available:

Channel Lineup: 2.5/5

While Sling TV does not have the best channel lineup, you get a decent amount of channels given the price point for the product. The problem is that Sling TV’s packages seem to have no rhyme or reason as to what’s included in either Blue or Orange, forcing most people to choose their premier package for $45/month. For example, Sling Blue offers almost all of your basic sports channels (FOX Sports, NFL Network, NBC Sports), but ESPN is only offered in Sling Orange. As a sports fan, that type of lineup seems rigged to force me to spend an additional $15 per month. 

A good rule of thumb for trying to decide which package is best for you may be:

  • Sling Orange: Offers a more ESPN/Disney-focused channel lineup

  • Sling Blue: Offers a more NBC and FOX-focused channel lineup

  • Components of Turner, CBS and others are woven throughout both

The only thing that keeps Sling TV from getting a ‘“3” rating in this category is the missing local channels. Some markets do not qualify for local channels through Sling which forces the customer to set up a local antenna (which Sling TV actually provides at no cost, but just a hassle). You can go to Sling TV’s website to see if local channels are provided in your market.

Sling TV also lacks many regional sports networks that are probably found on your local cable service. These vary by locality, but typically they include channels that show professional baseball, basketball and hockey games in the regular season.

Flexibility: 3/5

There are also a TON of add-ons you can purchase at various price points. Be careful though, the more you add from the list, the higher it drives up the cost. Cutting the cord is all about saving money!

  • Starz (six channels for $9 per month)

  • Showtime (nine channels for $10 per month)

  • Sports Extra ($10 per month) — MLB Network, NBA TV, SEC Network

  • Comedy Extra ($5 per month) — MTV, CMT, TV Land

  • Kids Extra ($5 per month) — Disney Junior, Nick Jr., Boomerang

  • News Extra ($5 per month) — BBC World News, HLN, RT America

  • Lifestyle Extra ($5 per month) — Cooking Channel, Hallmark Channel, BET

  • Hollywood Extra ($5 per month) — Sundance TV, TCM, Reelz

  • Heartland Extra ($5 per month) — Outdoor Channel, Sportsman Channel, Ride TV

  • International ($5 per month) — channels from Europe, India, China, more

  • Espanol ($5 per month) — Azteca, Cine Latino, NBC Universo

  • Deportes ($5 per month) — LaLiga, Ligue 1, Superliga Argentina, more

Sling TV also has flexible cancellation terms, allowing you to cancel anytime and continue your service through the end of your monthly billing cycle. 

Final Review: 3.5/5

Sling TV is a very good product for anyone looking to cut the cord. You have the capability to create a unique package that fits your viewing needs and keeps prices relatively cheap. The major red flags to look for are its lack of local channels and interface. 

Sling TV is a great place for a cord-cutting beginner as it's priced to test and allows flexible cancellation terms, and is more than likely already available on a streaming device in your house.

However, if your household is a TV-centric family, there are much better streaming services out there. I view Sling TV as more of a supplement to someone's content stack. If you absolutely need something to get your ESPN or news fix throughout the day, Sling TV fits well alongside a Netflix or Amazon Prime Video subscription.