Sling.com, the online video portal from the makers of the Slingbox, is now open to the public, putting it in direct competition with the likes of Hulu and Joost. Unfortunately, like so many other sites, it’s only open to U.S. citizens.
SlingMedia is the company responsible for the popular Slingbox device which allows you to broadcast a TV signal around your house via the Internet. It’s also recently launched the SlingCatcher, a set-top box to compete with the likes of AppleTV and Roku.
Not content with managing market battles on two fronts, SlingMedia has recently opened its Sling.com video portal up to the public, allowing users to stream movies and TV programs for free in Flash video format.
The selection of content on offer is impressive, with major networks and studios such as CBS, NBC, Fox, Sony, Warner, and MGM offering their wares on the site. Sling is also a Hulu partner so will stream some of its content.
As well as the big sources, Sling offers content from PBS, BBC America, as well as syndicating Web video sites such as College Humor and Break.com. It makes for a site with a nice mix between short clips and longer, professionally made videos.
The big advantage Sling.com has over its competitors is the Slingbox itself. You can stream content directly from any Slingbox you own to your browser, and watch it directly. When signed into your user account, the site automatically detects any box linked.
However, not everything is peachy. For starters, live streaming is only available on computers running Windows, although a Mac version is promised soon. But much worse than that is the fact that once again, international viewers are once again being treated as second-class citizens.
Territorial Rights Licensing… Again
It feels like I’ve mentioned this on numerous different occasions, probably because I have. But it just makes no sense to ban the rest of the world from watching online video content. America may run the world these days, but the Internet is meant to be a global phenomenon supposed to make the world a smaller place.
What it means is that for me, Joost beats any of the other multi-source, multi-platform video sites on the Internet right now. Not because the content is brilliant, or the technology and usability is way ahead of its competitors, but purely because I, as a British person, can watch it. That’s of the utmost importance.
Sling.com is a nice looking portal that does add to the range and breadth of video sites on the Internet. But Hulu beats it for content, and Joost beats it for offering anyone outside of the U.S. a chance to actually take part.
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