With Apple pausing on its plans for an over-the-top subscription TV service, 2016 will be another opportunity for Dish's Sling TV to replace cable for millions of people. The core $20 package remains as compelling now as it did when Sling TV debuted here at CES one year ago, and there's always the option of adding more channels (or even HBO) if you want them. There are still some missing networks (USA, anyone?), but Sling TV's primary problem hasn't been content — or even reliability. It's the terrible user interface, which has made using the service way slower and less intuitive than it should be. Thankfully, Sling has heard the complaints, and today the company is revealing a completely overhauled design that delivers on many requests.
Want to choose your favorite channels and see only those channels when browsing the guide? Now you can. Sling is also borrowing some cues from Sony's PlayStation Vue, letting you pick which shows you like watching instead of just picking channels. Those appear on the new "My TV" menu, which will also recommend new stuff to check out based on your viewing history. Another new section, On Now, will surface everything that's airing live on Sling at that moment, whether it's sports, movies, or TV shows. Speaking of sports, Sling now includes ESPN3 right in the channel guide, adding "thousands of live and on-demand events" to what you already get with ESPN and ESPN2, both of which are part of the base "Best of Live TV" package.
The next-generation Sling TV UI will roll out in phases across compatible devices. Sling works with Android, iOS, Xbox One, Roku, Amazon Fire TV, Chromecast, and PC / Mac. The company isn't spelling out exactly when you'll get the new and improved experience on each of those, but hopefully the days of skipping over channels you'll never watch will be over very, very soon. There's clearly a big opening for Sling TV on the new Apple TV, though the company wouldn't confirm whether it has plans to launch on Apple's set-top box. It would seem to make perfect sense — especially with Apple currently sitting things out and leaving the internet TV market to Dish, Sony, and cable providers themselves. Either way, Sling's starting to look like a really, really good use of $20.