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Comment Re:Gotta pay for the streams somehow (Score 1) 112 112

In most cases, yes; the slingbox client software will attempt to connect directly to the box using TCP; the boxes automatically issue UPnP commands to open the ports. Barring that, they will attempt a UDP connection. IF that fails, they *will* proxy a stream; but it's a much lower quality. The ads are showing up on the direct TCP connections; so...essentially...I'm getting shown advertisements for something that's using my own resources.

Comment Re:Sling me a kipper, I'll be back for breakfast (Score 1) 112 112

Yeah..but there's the hope someone in the legal department of various networks who were looking to throw Sling against the wall might join in. I know Fox was really aggressive at one point; but the judge said if it didn't bother them for the last 8 years, they didn't see a legitimate reason it should now. But they could probably spin that in to a valid reason now.

Comment Re:I was wondering... (Score 4, Insightful) 112 112

I actually know a couple guys in the broadcast and cable industry who have made heavy usage of Slingboxes for various tasks; one guy I know works for a fiber co-op and they use them to quickly verify if a problem exists at whatever partner is down-linking it, a couple of others use them for remote monitoring, and I've heard of a case or two where they were used for verification of ad-insertions.

I first noticed the ads creeping up back in like, November; it's only gotten even worse as the months have drug on.

Hulu shows ads even on the paid service; Netflix doesn't though; and it's probably against their contracts on content to do so. Sling has no contract over the content we're watching...because it's a private stream and we bought hardware.

Even if the class-action doesn't go through; I'm pretty sure it will have attracted the attention of the content providers...who will likely start their own suits.

Comment Re:It's been going on...for months (Score 2) 112 112

Maybe I don't understand how Slingboxes work, but the general concept of a "home DVR you can access from anywhere" doesn't seem to require that the vendor maintain a server or stay in business for that matter for the basic DVR and remote-viewing functionality to work.

Here's basically how Slingboxes work: you have a piece of hardware that is connected to your network and the A/V connections on your cable box (it even has pass-through ports); the box then digitizes and compresses the A/V stream being spit out of the cable box. You also have a small IR emitter (built in to later boxes) that relays remote control commands to the box. It's not exactly a "home DVR you can access from anywhere"; it's quite literally a device that streams whatever your set-top-box displays while allowing you to control it. Now, one thing they've done well is making the device a bit "fool-proof" for the average user to use. Most people don't know what an IP address is, or how to look it up, or that it changes; it's not a problem for those of us who have been doing that type of stuff for years. So what they do is maintain servers that keeps track of your Slingbox's IP address; so you can access it without having to know anything but your slingbox ID. The servers don't just do that; but they are also capable of relaying a stream (at reduced quality), should some crazy firewall/double-NAT/other reason occur that your client can't directly connect to it. However, most of the time the boxes will attempt to set up a port-forward on your router through UPnP, if that fails, it will then attempt to blast through the router using UDP, then falling back to relay if that doesn't work. While I would almost buy the argument "we have to cover those costs", one could argue "no one is asking you to"; they've just basically built all that in to the product.

There is also the issue that, for a while; they were hosting additional bandwidth as playback had gone strictly to browser-embedded clients. They had a desktop application for a while; but discontinued it sometime around 2011 and the 2012 models weren't supported. The worst part about that was if your internet went down with the older boxes; the client application could still find them over the LAN and connect without any intervention from Sling. The browser method meant if your internet was down; or their servers went down...you were totally unable to watch the device at all (unless it was an older unit) They have a desktop program now...and I'm still not sure if they list it as being supported by anything except the latest models. But at this point, all they're really doing is pushing a minimal amount of bandwidth to tell the client where your boxes are. It may still be able to find local boxes without intervention from Sling, but I haven't tested it. In retrospect, using a device that wasn't connectable using standard software was a bad idea; at the same time...the $180 investment was *much* cheaper than buying the hardware necessary to digitize 1080i video over component and compress it to a high-efficiency video codec in realtime. I actually considered something like an HDHomeRun; but I'd have to cannibalize a cable box for it's CableCard or pay an extra I'm-not-even-sure-what-it-costs for a standalone cable card...which at the time my provider was not allowing self-install on...and didn't do installs for anything except home-theater-PCs.

But ultimately, you can still only go so far keeping people locked in; and while many of us put up with some of thier stupid stuff in the past...making us feel like we've got to pay them to watch our TV on hardware we bought from them is an insult.

Comment Re:Sling me a kipper, I'll be back for breakfast (Score 1) 112 112

The unit has always cached about a 5 second buffer of content; except it accomplishes this over time by playing the stream back at 90% and gradually increasing that as the buffer fills up.

You don't need a 30 second advertisement (or more) to fill what is essentially a 5 second buffer. Your PC is streaming and buffering the content from the Slingbox, while the client is displaying a server-based advertisement. I'm not even 100% it keeps any of the content that was streamed to you other than to fill the buffer; I haven't checked where the 30-minute rewind actually starts at when the box stream does finally get going.

Comment Re:Sling me a kipper, I'll be back for breakfast (Score 2) 112 112

My logic to all of that is stations opted for retrans consent because cable companies were often using the ability to get out of market locals due to their big towers and highly sensitive equipment to get customers in; and the networks felt someone else shouldn't be able to profit off that. I mean, for the first 40-some years of "cable" TV it's entire concept was picking up local and/or distant stations and selling a connection to it. I mean...the guy that came up with the concept did so to sell more TV's in the mountainous area his customers were in, who couldn't get a TV signal with an aerial. Slingbox and similar technologies have been held as not being re-transmission because in most cases; you have a legal right to use that signal for private use. The reception equipment is yours, it's in your house; and unless you're running OTA...you're already paying for the channels. The stream originates from your dwelling using your internet connection.

But now here is Sling, wanting to profit off all of that. It was one thing when they were selling you just a piece of hardware to do it; networks had less legal ground to call foul (well, they did for a short period of time, but everyone waited too long and the judge stated if no one had a problem with it to start, why now?). So while yes, Aereo was re-transmitting in all the classical sense; that whole issue comes down to someone profiting off the content without having a legal right to. Sling doesn't seem to have much of a legal right, considering it's not their content and it's involving physical hardware they've been paid for.

In a lateral form of thinking...it's along the same lines as what Comcast did by forcing a public "members-only" wifi point on everyone without consent; which basically lets them build a "wi-fi network" by forcing customers to provide part of the resources. "Hey, you've gotta have all this stuff hooked up anyway; so we're gonna make it so other comcast members can connect to your wifi...and we're going to use this as a marketing ploy to make us more money...and we're not compensating you for this."

Comment Re:Sling me a kipper, I'll be back for breakfast (Score 5, Informative) 112 112

The difference here, as I'm sure I'll have to point out many more times to people; you purchase the hardware that digitizes and streams your cable box; so you're essentially also paying for the content you are watching, as well as the bandwidth, plus the electricity to run it. All Sling really does is run a server that keeps track of your IP address to make connecting easier for people who are technically savvy.

Comment Re:Gotta pay for the streams somehow (Score 4, Informative) 112 112

What do you mean "pay for the streams". Sling doesn't pay for the streams. You're paying for the streams by subscribing to cable TV; you're paying for the bandwidth because it's your internet connection you're streaming from; you've also given them a couple hundred bucks for the hardware to do this.

Comment Re:Sling me a kipper, I'll be back for breakfast (Score 4, Insightful) 112 112

Putting an advertisement could constitute as monetizing the stream; and Aereo got shut down over basically monetizing streams they didn't have rebroadcast rights to. Sling doesn't have retransmit consent; but a judge ruled that the nature of the service was a private link that only served one viewer at a time. Still, that ruling was made back when you weren't getting forced advertisements either.

They aren't inserting ads over the video stream; what they're doing is inserting an advertisement before it will play your live TV stream. These ads range from :30 to sometimes 3 minutes in length; and you have zero way of opting-out. There's no ability to skip; and even adblock is becoming a tad useless.

Comment It's been going on...for months (Score 5, Interesting) 112 112

The ads started appearing back in like, November. It started out as a youtube-like ad in the browser client; which at the time was the only PC based way of watching the units. Then they started hard-coding them in to the new desktop application. At first, you had the option of skipping after so many seconds; but lately they've been advertisements between :30 and 2:30 that have no way of skipping them.

They are not actually inserting advertisements in the video stream; but what they are doing is requiring you to watch one before it will begin playing your TV. As many pointed out Youtube does this; I also point out to people that I don't buy hardware to watch youtube; where as I've purchased a physical piece of hardware as well as subscribe to a TV service to utilize the hardware.

To make matters worse; Sling has seemingly gone downhill in customer support. When you question the advertisements to them on social media, you don't get a response; you get silenced and banned from that social media page. If you talk about it on the forums; they will delete the posts. They're going to great lengths to not only hide the fact you will get advertisements from them in this manner; but even greater lengths of blatantly ignoring customers.

The whole issue with this is they are in fact monetizing your viewing; which is the exact same thing Aereo got shut down over. I'm getting the feeling that they were taking the one judge stating Singbox is not retransmission in a manner they weren't supposed to; and decided to monetize every time you connect.

I get that they have server maintenance to pay for; but it's not like they quit selling Slingboxes; and no one was actually complaining when it was an un-obtrusive banner ad displayed on the client plugin. But the fact they're basically making you watch an entire advertisement that does nothing but benefit them; so you can watch TV you pay for, on hardware they own; they've just taken the "evil corporate" route.

Submission + - Class Action Against Sling Media filed.->

DewDude writes: In case you missed it; Sling Media has been forcing advertisments in to video streams from Slingbox devices unless you pay for a client application; which is only an option for Apple, Android, and Windows 8 devices. Well, it appears as the issue will now head to the courts as two plaintiffs have filed a class action suit against Sling Media, which claims they participated in "bait-and-switch" tactics by charging users for the hardware, then monetizing the streaming of that content. The suit also makes the point that Sling does not own the rights to the programming they are inserting advertisements in.

As a former Slingbox evangelist; Sling's position on the advertisements has been to silence and block users who complain about the practice and has driven me away from not only wanting to use the technology, but recommending it to others.

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