Chances are, you know a cable orphan — heck, you may even be one yourself. The love-children of streaming media and on-demand services, they're often found on the doorsteps of cable-subscribing friends with a six-pack and a sheepish grin right before the start of a big game.
In the post-boom, post-recession, post-prime-time economy, cable orphans are as common as Hooverites during the Great Depression. They're characterized by the sort of good-hearted scrappiness you'd expect to find in a rail-riding hobo; but instead of a "will work for food" sign, they're more likely to proffer a Facebook post offering made-from-scratch nachos to anyone up for hosting the awards show-watching party.
Like their broke brethren of yore, the cable orphan's motives are economic — when in doubt, assume the decision to live a cable-free lifestyle doesn't come from the heart, but from the wallet. With premium cable packages costing up to $200 a month, unlimited access to thousands of channels can be as expensive as having an extra mouth to feed. Ain't nobody got budget for that.
Yet despite the overwhelming evidence to the contrary, many cable orphans claim not to feel the burn of the cable-free lifestyle. They cite streaming and on-demand services, or sweat it out until their favorite shows make it onto network websites. The money they save on cable bills is worth it, they say. And when the season finale of their favorite series airs, they grit their teeth and stay away from Twitter to avoid spoilers. They'll watch it three months later. On a tablet. Interrupted every five minutes by the exact same commercial. Trying to ignore the gnawing ache in their guts that only a realtime experience on a 36-inch screen can soothe.
But (spoiler alert), like Annie at the end of that Jamie Foxx movie, cable orphans have found their Daddy Warbucks and are kissing the hard-knock life good-bye. Salvation has arrived in the form of Sling TV, a spankin'-new standalone service.
What is Sling TV, exactly? It's not cable or satellite TV, and it's not an on-demand streaming service like Netflix or Hulu. Instead, it's the best aspects of each with none of the drawbacks. Sling TV's beauty is in its simplicity: it streams live TV the moment it airs. Think of it as crystal-clear bunny ears for the channels you can't get with bunny ears no matter how many coat hangers you bubble gum together.
With ESPN, AMC, HGTV, TNT and more, Sling TV translates into a warm and fuzzy home for cable orphans who have previously been forced into watching season premieres with dreaded cousins, having baseball games drowned out by loud bar patrons, and other seedy and unspeakable indignities. The best part for cash-strapped sports and entertainment fans? The delightfully skimpy price tag. For just $20 a month, Sling TV streams live TV straight to the television, computer, phone and/or tablet of the needy cable orphan, saving thousands of dollars a year on hefty cable bills and dozens of hours slogging to the homes of friends and family with more robust home entertainment packages (uphill both ways, with nothing but tater skins on their feet).
To thicken the stew of goodwill, Sling TV is even offering a weeklong free trial to anyone who wants to give the service a try — just visit sling.com for full details. Consider it your chicken, the folks at Sling TV your Hoover, and your dusty-no-more TV set the pot.
Ready to leave the hard, cold, cruel world of cable orphanhood behind? Try Sling TV for free today, and see what it's like to finally be able to call your couch "home."
Anna Schumacher is a freelance writer and the author of the YA doomsday series End Times, out now from Razorbill Books.