Sling TV, the streaming video service that delivers channels like ESPN and Food Network over the internet for $20 per month, just fixed one of its biggest problems: Its poor user interface (UI).
The updated UI, called "myTV," will be released in the first quarter of 2016, the company said Tuesday at a CES press event in Las Vegas, and will learn from users' viewing history to display more relevant programming in the channel guide.
I've been a paying Sling TV customer since May 2015, and this updated UI will—knock on wood—reflect the fact that 99 percent of the time my girlfriend and I are watching exactly one of three channels: Food Network, HGTV, or BeIn Sports. This means that, with myTV, the channel guide will go from being a generic strip of channels along the bottom of the TV to becoming a smart, or at least smarter, hub that takes uses data to recognize how rarely we watch channels like ESPN or Lifetime.
"This generation [of TV viewers] doesn't understand pay TV concepts or restraints," said Sling TV CEO Roger Lynch in front of a standing room-only audience at the Mandalay Bay Convention Center. "One of the basic premises of Sling TV is to deliver the best of live TV, but we also offer more than 50,000 hours of on-demand and replay content… One of our primary challenges has been to creating a better means of navigating all that entertainment."
In addition to taking into account viewing history, the updated UI will eventually be able to take into account other signals like time of day and what's "trending" on the service in order to make further content recommendations. Sling TV says the UI will eventually be able to know that, for example, you like watching CNN when you wake up first thing in the morning. Sling TV was vague as to when exactly these additional signals, such as time of day, would be implemented in the updated UI.
Beyond the much needed updated UI, Sling TV will add ESPN3 to its existing channel lineup in the first quarter of the year. The company also said that it will add support for more devices in 2016. This is entirely speculative, but the Apple TV, complete with its nascent App Store, could certainly benefit from the addition of Sling TV.
Make it happen, Lynch. And fix those loud commercials while you're at it.