by Jason Snell
Slingbox reaches the inevitable end
Dave Zatz, media blogger and former Sling employee, is the perfect person to mark its passing:
Welp. It’s come to this. Slingbox servers will be shut down forever come November 9th. At which point all remaining devices will be bricked….
While it’s fairly easy to replicate Slingbox functionality these days for over-the-air antenna TV (Tablo, HDHomeRun with Channels or Plex, Slingbox-descendent AirTV), for better or worse we’ve moved away from remote (IR) control of that cable box.
Slingbox was amazing because it let you watch your own home TV wherever you were in the world. I tuned into a Pac-12 After Dark college football game while waiting for a very early-morning flight in Sweden. TV critics had friends set up Slingboxes on the east coast so they had access to shows in advance of the west-coast feed. Sports fans got friends to put Slingboxes in their houses so they could watch their far-away baseball team’s games. It was a thing… but it was ephemeral.
Slingbox got bought out by Echostar (its brand lives on in the Sling vMPVD service, and as Dave notes, part of it lives on as the watch-from-anywhere feature of the Sling Hopper DVR. But the moment has passed. These days I can watch the vMPVD equivalent of cable (in my case, Fubo TV) on any device I own, from anywhere.
Still, it’s also worth remembering that OG Slingboxes technically still work. They stood alone. It’s the later models that required a cloud service—and when you buy any hardware that requires a cloud service, you’re risking the death of that product when the cloud service goes away:
Interesting, early Slingboxes/software did not actually require Sling Media servers in the mix and home IPs could be hardcoded. We were simply in the mix to provide a dynamic DNS service, facilitating the client-to-box connection. But, some time after we were acquired, the powers that be began dabbling in ads (ugh) and subscriptions – which do indeed require that permanent intermediary.
In any event, Slingbox was a brilliant idea from the late Blake Krikorian and for a moment it gave TV watchers the power to roam and still watch what they wanted.