How to Cut Cable TV Bill in Half Legally?

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We will explain why you need a Slingbox; how it works and how to set it up.  Please read the entire article and make sure you understand the concept because this is probably the best way to cut your cable TV bill in half or even get it for free.

To make the idea easier to understand, we are going to refer a family member or friend (who is a TV service subscriber and willing to let you tap into their paid TV service) as a “host” since the idea is for you to benefit at their expense.

The reason you need a Slingbox is simple, you can watch your host’s paid TV subscription on your mobile devices or PC for free or half of the cost if you decide to split the bill.  Why pay for two separate cable TV bills when you can have one household paying the bill and “slinging” the TV service to another household for free?  To give you a more extreme example, if the host really wanted to, he or she can sling the paid TV subscription to 10 other family members or friends.  This is possible but subject to a few conditions which we will touch on below.


What is a Slingbox?

Slingbox is a streaming device that you attach to your host’s TV receiver or cable, it then transfers the video signals (in this case new, live sports, TV shows, movies, etc.) via the Internet to your mobile devices or PC, at no cost.  It doesn’t matter where the host’s receiver is located in the world.  For instance, you can attach the Slingbox to a Japanese host’s TV receiver and watch whatever they are watching.

You might be wondering if you must watch what the host is watching.   Slingbox has you covered in that regard.  Slingbox comes with an IR Blaster that you will attach to the host’s TV receiver.  You can control the host’s receiver via your mobile Apps, desktop software or a web browser. I’m sure your host will prefer to have full control of their TV programming so we will show you how to set up Slingbox below without biting the hand that will be feeding you the cable TV signal.


Internet requirement

First and foremost, you and your host must have fast and plentiful bandwidth allowance from your Internet service providers.  It is especially important for the host to have a good upload speed.  The faster the upload speed is, the better picture quality you will get, up to HD quality.  Since “slinging” shows in HD will quickly eats into your bandwidth allowance each month, so, be sure you and your host are aware of the bandwidth limitations or both of you might get penalized by your ISP.  With this warning out of the way, we can go on with the Slingbox setup.


Equipment needed

Below are what you and your host will need to set up Slingbox properly.


  • High-speed Internet connection, preferably package with unlimited bandwidth.
  • Mobile Slingplayer App (charge apply) or free Slingplayer desktop software for your PC.

Your host:

  • High-speed Internet connection with fast upload speed, package with unlimited bandwidth is preferred.
  • Slingbox (which you will supply).
  • Additional TV receiver plus splitter and coaxial cable (which you will pay for).
  • Wireless router (note: if you are connecting your Slingbox to the router by an Ethernet cable, you need an open port from the router; if using a wireless router, make sure your Slingbox supports Wi-Fi).

As you can see above, most of the equipment are placed at your host’s home.  So before you rush out to buy all the equipment, we highly recommend performing a survey at your host’s home.  This way you can plan how: the TV receiver, Slingbox and Internet router will be connected.


Why use Slingbox w/ Wifi 

An important consideration is the distance between all these devices.  A typical setup will be: placing the additional TV receiver near a TV signal outlet or you can branch off the host’s primary TV receiver using a cable splitter.  Your Slingbox is then connected to the additional TV receiver.  The trickier part is often the distance between the Slingbox and the Internet router.  If the internet router is in a different room, then you will be running a very long Ethernet cable to connect the Slingbox and the router.  In addition, you may have to find a way to hide the cable.

The easiest solution for this issue is to buy a Slingbox with Wi-Fi capability; however, there is no guaranteed that the Wi-Fi signal would be optimal.  To remedy a weak Wi-Fi signal, you can try a wireless router range extender.  Once all three devices are connected, attach the IR Blaster that came with the Slingbox to the host’s additional TV receiver.  You are now pretty close to streaming a paid TV service to your home or mobile devices.


Set up Slingplayer App

Next, you need to install Slingplayer from using a PC or mobile device at your Host’s place.  The step-by-step instruction from the Slingplayer installer is simple to follow.  It will ask you to create an account with Slingbox so you can connect to the host’s Slingbox (TV service) anytime and anywhere in the world.  Once you see your Slingbox appears in the Slingplayer setup menu (the software scans the local network for the Slingbox first since it’s connected to the router), select it and you are almost at the finish line.  Make sure the virtual remote control in Slingplayer works before leaving your host’s place.  Go back to your place and install Slingplayer on your PC, sign in to your Slingbox account and start enjoying watching a paid TV service for free!


Streaming 10 Slingboxes at the same time?

Note: Slingplayer App for your PC is free and for your mobile device is NOT (Edit: Sling Media has made the Slingplayer App FREE for all devices starting July 19, 2015). Also, only one Slingplayer account can connect to the host’s Slingbox at a time so you cannot have multiple accounts connected to the same Slingbox simultaneously.  So let’s revisit the unlikely scenario we mentioned earlier, can a host “sling” paid TV subscription to 10 other family members or friends?

The answer is yes with only one major obstacle.  Since only one Slingplayer account can be connected to the Slingbox at a time.  10 Slingboxes are required to generate 10 separate Slingbox accounts.  10 TV receivers are also needed so each family member can control their own receiver thus programming.  Buying the Slingboxes and TV receivers is straight forward.  If you are concerned about cost, search for local ads from Craig’s List or Kijiji.  The challenge may be convincing your host’s cable TV provider to allow 10 additional TV receivers.

Finally, the main obstacle may be your host’s Internet service.  The Internet service must have unlimited bandwidth amount and ultra-fast Internet upload speed to support 10 Slingboxes.  From our own experience, viewing HD channels consumes about 5 Mbps.  Take this number and multiply it by 10 equals 50 Mbps.  So your host’s upload speed needs to be at least 50 Mbps in order for this tactic to work!


Update: The production of Slingbox was discontinued in 2017. You can still find used units on ebay. It appears the Slingplayer App is still available for download and being updated. If watching live sports is the only reason you are paying for a monthly TV package, check out How to Watch Live Sports Online for Less.


Photo credit: Thomas Hawk / Foter / CC BY-NC






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