-- Sling Media hopes to go head-to-head with Hulu, Joost and other online streaming sites with a newly launched video streaming destination of its own at Sling.com. Sling Media, is best known for its TV place-shifting hardware Slingbox and Web applications. This marks a departure by Sling Media from offering tools to stream your own TV content, allowing you now to stream third-party content from major networks and studios including Warner, Sony, and MGM.
The site makes finding and viewing videos easy - but it's hardly a game-changer. The new site has a nice variety of content that can be viewed straight from your browser, just like Hulu, and forces you to watch a short commercial before seeing your content, just like Hulu.
In fact, a good chunk of content on Sling is coming straight from Hulu, but there are some big downsides to this. All Hulu videos have the company's logo in the bottom right hand corner of the viewing pane, which I found to be annoying. Also, unlike Hulu, Sling does not give you the option of watching hi-res videos, which means the quality is less than stellar when in full-screen mode.
One other thing I missed was the actor search that Hulu brought out with its site updates earlier this year. A search for Brad Pitt on Hulu, for example, immediately brings up movie results like "A River Runs Through It" and "Legends of the Fall." On Sling, however, the first results are clips from celebrity gossip shows with movie results missing until the second page.
From a content perspective, Sling has nabbed CBS programs for its site while Hulu can only direct you to CBS content on the network's site. Not a huge advantage, but if you're a die-hard fan of "How I Met Your Mother" then Sling might be for you.
Slingbox Owners Get Big Upgrade
Sling.com is also likely to be a bigger hit with Slingbox owners. A Slingbox is a set-top box that allows you to watch your own television or recorded content remotely. Right now, Slingbox owners need to use the company's proprietary software to access their television, but Sling.com will allow you to watch your TV streams in a standard Web browser. To do this you'll need to download a plug-in to access your Slingbox.
The Live TV option is currently available on Windows PCs only, but functionality will most likely extend to a Mac in the future. According to Venture Beat, plans are in the works for Slingbox users to be able to access Sling.com from their television, which could give the site an even bigger advantage over its competitors.
Nevertheless, unless you're a Slingbox owner, there are just too many downsides for Sling to unseat Hulu as the top choice for online video streaming.