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12 channels for $20/month: Meet Sling TV, the latest streaming service for your apartment

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A few years ago, I stood on the roof my six-story walk-up in Gowanus, a Time Warner Cable guy at my side, who pointed to a box attached to a pole three backyards away, wires sprouting from its surface like unkempt hairs. That, he said, was the spot where he’d have to connect the cable if my roommates and I were ever going to get TV in our apartment, a process that would require obtaining permission from the owners of each backyard, and then--an even more daunting prospect--arranging a second visit from Time Warner to hook it all up. Needless to say, we missed a lot of "appointment TV" that year.

At the time, living in a cable dead zone felt like missing out on something; it was the early days of Hulu, and Netflix was still more or less considered a DVD delivery service. If the same thing happened today, let’s just say, I would never have found myself on that roof. Netflix, Hulu, Amazon Prime and the forthcoming HBO Go streaming service (rumored to cost $15 a month) are eviscerating the need for cable.

And Monday, Dish Networks hammered another nail into cable’s coffin with the announcement of its Sling TV service. For $20 a month, subscribers get online streaming access to 12 channels, including ESPN, ESPN2, TNT, TBS, Food Network, HGTV, Travel Channel, Adult Swim, Cartoon Network, Disney Channel, ABC Family and CNN, plus content from YouTube’s Maker Studios, the company says on its website. For another $10 a month, you can add on an extra package, including one tailored for kids (Disney Junior, Disney XD, Boomerang, Baby TV and Duck TV), news and entertainment junkies (HLN, Cooking Channel, DIY and Bloomberg TV), and sports fans (lineup coming soon). Like other streaming services, there’s no commitment, no contract, no credit check, no hardware, no installation, and you can watch on pretty much any device, including your TV and smartphone.

Now that I live alone, it wouldn't be too difficult to spend as much on streaming subscriptions as traditional cable. But not having to sit at home waiting for the cable guy? Priceless. 

H/t to the Billfold for the news. 

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