Goodbye old friend: The granddaddy of modern TV streaming, Slingbox, is about to run out of life support. On Wednesday, November 9, the cloud-based content provider will end server support, ending all functionality on the device. The service is a 17-year-old, which by contemporary technology standards lasts at least two lifetimes. The news came as no surprise, but the due date slyly eluded us.
Slingbox entered hospice care two years ago when Sling Media announced it was ending the device. Modern streaming services don’t require any external hardware other than your PC, laptop, video game console, smart TV, tablet or phone. So the decision to let Slingbox die peacefully was tantamount to a lack of demand and an end to legal challenges.
Slingbox was technically ahead of its time. When it launched in 2005, less than half of all homes in the United States had the broadband service required to operate the device. Cable internet didn’t become very popular until after 2007. If you had a Slingbox in 2005, you probably considered it some kind of witchcraft, although you might not be willing to admit it.
It was founding builder partners Blake and Jason Krikorian’s passion for San Francisco Giants baseball that led to the invention of Slingbox. At that time, the brothers owned a consulting company and traveled extensively away from their home in San Francisco. They grew frustrated when they couldn’t watch Giants games out of town due to network deals that locked them out of other cities.
Digital video recorders like TiVo already existed, but they wanted a platform to watch baseball live no matter where they were. So the brothers invented a box that could transfer their home cable provider’s content wherever they were, hence the name Slingbox.
Networks and sports teams have made a lot of noise about the technology, deeming it illegal but not having much support in court. Broadcasters cried foul of retransmission deals, but the Krikorians never signed any like other networks did.
What was it like unboxing an original 17-year-old Slingbox?
With the advent of 3G mobile service, smartphones have become a viable way to watch television away from home. However, AT&T did not like this and managed to block the service of their customers’ accounts.
Despite adverse corporate nonsense, the Slingbox has become widely used. It sold well enough that Dish bought Sling Media for $380 million in 2007, just two years after the first box was released. Adjusted for inflation, that’s $543,966,201 in today’s economy.
If you still have an old (or newer) working Slingbox, why not plug it in and say goodbye as you finally watch the server signal die down? Don’t worry if you subscribe to Sling TV. Sling TV is an entirely different service and will not be affected.
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Dish is removing Slingbox from life support tomorrow
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