Sling TV brings welcome changes to menu system, adds ESPN3

Sling TV, the live TV streaming service that provides 20 channels for $20, is getting a much-needed overhaul for its user interface, and adds ESPN3 to its base package for no extra charge.

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Photo by Sling TV

Sling TV is a great bargain compared with cable TV, and streaming 20 live channels over the Internet can seem futuristic, but finding stuff to watch on the service seems stuck in the last century.

Fortunately Sling is completely overhauling its user interface, bringing it closer to what a user of Netflix or another top-end streaming service might expect today. Judging from what we saw in a hands-on demo, the new interface is a big improvement.

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Gone is the linear endless scroll of channels and thumbnails in the current version. Instead there's a bunch of tabs along the top, the first of which is labeled "My TV." It collects a user's favorite channels and shows, and for on-demand (as opposed to live-only) content, users can resume watching where they left off. A future release will enable the ability to suggest new shows.

Other tabs along the top include "On Now," with currently airing shows (including, perhaps annoyingly, ones Sling offers but you might not subscribe to) across different categories; "Sports," "TV Shows," and "Movies," each offering a mix of live, upcoming and on-demand content.

Sling says the new interface will roll out in phases to the various devices that support the app, starting in the first quarter of 2016.

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Photo by Sling TV

ESPN3 added for 'free'

Throughout 2015 Sling continued to augment its channel lineup, and the most welcome additions were networks, like AMC, A&E, History, H2 and Lifetime, that were added for "free" as part of its base $20/month subscription package.

The latest such addition is ESPN3. Sling's base package already offers the live-only versions of ESPN and ESPN2, and later in the first quarter of 2016 ESPN3 will appear. It delivers live and on-demand sports including college football, college basketball, NCAA Championships, tennis, soccer and more.