j4cc and skinny bundles

One bit of news out of the 2016 WWDC might be good for j4cc users, including myself!

j4cc logo

Sling TV has released an app for the Apple TV. The offering from them is known as a “skinny” bundle. A smaller set of channels for a smaller amount of money. In this case about 30 channels for $20. Most people feel they pay too much for 200 channels because they watch only 15 or so. For me it is not that what bothered me. I did not like that some of my hard earned money went to channels I just did not like, I was forced to pay them. I believe that as a citizen I should be able to vote with my wallet. Support commercial enterprises of my choosing for whatever reason I chose. I know that is different than most people, they just look at what they are paying each month. If the system was to pay for individual channels or ala carte, they argue that you would end up paying just as much.

Now I have the opportunity to have the best video entertainment system. With jflicks for cord cutters server and app I can record and watch live TV from my antenna. Along with Sling TV and their skinny bundle I can have more live TV without paying an arm and a leg. All using the Apple TV and one remote control. For me it is now the one streaming box to rule them all.

Sling TV logo

Sling TV has had an iOS app but they had disabled AirPlay. Using AirPlay the app only needs to start the video and “send” it to AirPlay device which is usually an Apple TV. Then the iOS device can be turned off saving battery. The reason you can turn off the iOS device is because it is not really sending the video to the Apple TV, it just sent a URL and the Apple TV fetches the video bits.

Unfortunately, the only alternative is to use AirPlay “mirroring”. What that is doing is sending the actual screen bits to the Apple TV and requires the iOS device to stay on using battery.

Now I had tested the mirroring and was surprised that the quality was not too bad. But just out of the principle of the thing I refused to be a Sling TV customer because they were not supporting me as a user. Knowing how simple it is to code and use AirPlay I know they purposely disabled it.

AirPlay support is good, as the jflicks for cord cutters mobile app uses it. However I have to admit that since I have written the jflicks for cord cutters Apple TV 4 app, I much prefer just using the Apple TV remote and the app on screen. A much better experience.

In my life as a cord cutter I was missing one thing – Yankee baseball games. I live in market so I cannot watch the Yankee games on MLB because they would be blacked out. It is just so crazy, I would happily pay MLB to watch if they would just let me! So I am limited to about 2 dozen Yankee games this season on TV. They are on local TV which picks up the broadcast from WPIX in New York. Then a few national Fox games on Saturday nights are also on my TV. So the rest of the games I listen on radio.

Now that Sling TV has an Apple TV 4 app and includes “your regional sports channel”, the YES network in my case, I can now buy the Yankee games I wanted.

I have been testing and watching for a week now and overall I would say it is good. The quality of the video is not that of Netflix, Amazon, YouTube, or iTunes. What I mean by that is the Sling TV buffering, freezes, and pixelation is much worse than the others. I never seem to have those issues on the other systems except perhaps Amazon when a video first starts, it starts pretty crappy looking.

Of course because the work I have done on the j4cc apps I understand how HLS (http live streaming) works and know the pixelization is because the video data is just not getting to the player fast enough so the system lowers the resolution to try to keep up. Either the Sling TV servers cannot keep up or my ISP cannot or will not get those bits to me fast enough. I have seen the quality improve over the week so perhaps many new Apple TV users signed up along with me this week and they were unprepared for the load.

Overall I am happy to have the choice now. I am certainly keeping Sling TV for the baseball season and may keep it longer if I feel I am getting value out of it!