Slingbox streaming boxes go off life support tomorrow

Cal Jeffrey

Posts: 3,719   +1,168
Staff member
Goodbye old friend: The grandfather to modern television streaming, Slingbox, is about to go off life support. On Wednesday, November 9, the cloud-based content provider will end server support, effectively ending all device functionality. The service is a ripe old 17-years-old, which by contemporary technology standards is at least a couple of lifetimes. The news wasn't a surprise, but the due date did sneak up on us.

Slingbox went into hospice two years ago when Sling Media announced it was sunsetting the device. Modern streaming services require no external hardware other than your PC, laptop, video gaming console, smart TV, tablet, or phone. So the decision to let Slingbox pass away peacefully amounted 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 US had the broadband service required to run the device. Cable internet didn't become widely popular until after 2007. If you had a Slingbox in 2005, you likely viewed it as some sort of sorcery, even though you might not have been willing to admit it.

It wass founding partners Blake and Jason Krikorian's passion for San Francisco Giants baseball that led to the invention of Slingbox. In those days, the brothers owned a consulting firm and traveled extensively away from their home in San Francisco. They became frustrated when they could not watch Giants games out of town due to network agreements that blacked them out in other cities.

Digital video recorders like TiVo already existed, but they wanted a platform for watching baseball live no matter where they were. So the brothers invented a box that could sling content from their home cable provider to wherever they were, hence the name Slingbox.

Networks and sports teams raised much fuss over the tech, deeming it illegal but not having much of a leg to stand on in the courts. Broadcasters cried foul on retransmission agreements, but the Krikorians never signed any as other networks had.


What was it like to unbox a 17-year-old original Slingbox?

With the arrival of 3G cell service, smartphones became a viable way to watch TV away from home. However, AT&T did not like this and successfully blocked the service from its customers' accounts.

Despite the adverse corporate nonsense, the Slingbox became widely used. It sold well enough that Dish bought Sling Media for $380 million in 2007, just two years after the first box hit the market. Adjusted for inflation, that's $543,966,201 in today's economy.

If you still have an old (or newer) working Slingbox, why not hook it up and say goodbye as you watch the server signal finally give out? Don't worry if you are a Sling TV subscriber. Sling TV is an entirely different service and will remain unaffected.

Image credit: LGR Blerbs

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Soulburn74

Posts: 128   +69
I remember having one of those ages ago! Used to watch my cable box's contents from the office back in the day!
 

Neatfeatguy

Posts: 1,093   +1,999
Man....17 years ago I was only a quarter of a century old, time just creeps by.

I remember when my older brother tried getting me to get a Sling box. It never fit with my needs so I didn't bother. He offered to get me one, but I told him to not waste his money because I wouldn't make use of it.
 

Knot Schure

Posts: 410   +197
Mine is still set up & online.
Mostly used when I am in a schithole country and the local TV is unbearable, (assuming I have the time).
And whilst they are saying they are ending it, the original Slingbox's did not need the ad-based web browser that phoned-home to Slingmedia, it just streamed to the app, from your own IP address.
They halted the functionality of the application, and forced you to a URL to authenticate to their servers, and THEN the application launches. They really want to stream you ads...
So if we can get the application modified, I see no reason it can't work, as the original Slingbox did (which I had).
Maybe need to open the idea to Hackaday...
 

BadThad

Posts: 1,278   +1,558
Personally, I never had a need for this in 17 years! Not home? It's called a DVR, just watch it later!
 

Avro Arrow

Posts: 3,355   +4,362
I used to sell these back when I worked at Tiger Direct. I had no idea that they managed to endure this long! Farewell, old friend!
 
Everyone has its own use case :)
I have been using SlingBox for 13 years to watch TV content from abroad.

In the meantime we’ve got many alternatives to SlingBox given that most TV Stations started streaming on internet, but some didn't, or others geo-fenced their content. (Yes, VPN can solve this).

Also, while large 4K TVs are the norm today, watching video on mobile phones or tablets is on the rise, and on those small screens SD videos look quite decent,

For those who still want to use their SlingBoxes, there is a free alternative which I have successfully tested in the past two weeks, and which I will use after the Nov.9.
Setup requires a little bit of tech knowledge, and there is plenty of help from the author and the other users. See here: https://github.com/GerryDazoo/Slinger
To use this, you would need to hurry up, as some settings required for setup like the device password and its FinderID are available only on the SlingBox server.
 

zulu53

Posts: 196   +72
Personally, I never had a need for this in 17 years! Not home? It's called a DVR, just watch it later!
As stated in the article this was not a replacement for a PVR it was a different product class entirely. It was a pioneer of the "streaming" class of device not the "recording" class. The recording class I.e. standalone PVR went out of service some time ago - so Sllingbox lasted longer than PVR's. Now if you miss a show you just stream a past episode or film from your providers server. RIP Slingbox.
 

Knot Schure

Posts: 410   +197
Everyone has its own use case :)
I have been using SlingBox for 13 years to watch TV content from abroad.

In the meantime we’ve got many alternatives to SlingBox given that most TV Stations started streaming on internet, but some didn't, or others geo-fenced their content. (Yes, VPN can solve this).

Also, while large 4K TVs are the norm today, watching video on mobile phones or tablets is on the rise, and on those small screens SD videos look quite decent,

For those who still want to use their SlingBoxes, there is a free alternative which I have successfully tested in the past two weeks, and which I will use after the Nov.9.
Setup requires a little bit of tech knowledge, and there is plenty of help from the author and the other users. See here: https://github.com/GerryDazoo/Slinger
To use this, you would need to hurry up, as some settings required for setup like the device password and its FinderID are available only on the SlingBox server.
Maaaan, I missed this in my travels back to Asia.
I assume my Finder ID is in some .htm or .cfg file or something still on the box itself. Is there no secret ssh port open that would give me dir access to search it? I see newatch.... is down already.
I grabbed the files from Git all the same.
Should this work out, a donation is defo on its way to this dude.
Thanks for sharing.
 

Knot Schure

Posts: 410   +197
Personally, I never had a need for this in 17 years! Not home? It's called a DVR, just watch it later!
What if you are not home for 10 months of the year? I imagine your disk would be full after a few weeks...
PVR & Slingbox work hand in hand. Sky Q to HDMI splitter (and stripper), one to TV, one to Slingbox.
Even found the Sky Q wand / remote ini file online.
Worked a treat.
Was planning an infrared over IP repeater so I could bring a remote with me & avoid the clunky 'screen remote'. But its all down the pan now... or maybe not. Will have to see what the hacking community's efforts have come up with...
 
Maaaan, I missed this in my travels back to Asia.
I assume my Finder ID is in some .htm or .cfg file or something still on the box itself. Is there no secret ssh port open that would give me dir access to search it? I see newatch.... is down already.
I grabbed the files from Git all the same.
Should this work out, a donation is defo on its way to this dude.
Thanks for sharing.
Yes, both FinderID and password may be found in your machine's logs here:
"C:\Users\<###YOUR_NAME###>\AppData\Roaming\Sling Media\Slingplayer Desktop\Logs\console.log". Somewhere there is your password in plain text.

- For FinderID it should be OK if you didn't get it, as the Slinger app can find the SlingBoxes in a network without an ID.
- For the admin password, I hope you know it. If your device has been bombed on Nov.9, then it may be resurrected with a factory reset + a modified firmware, which probably will restore the admin password to 'admin'.

"Device bombed": Well, as you probably already know, some SlingBox models, those that were to function without a connection to Sling.com servers, have been remotely disabled at the end of the day on Nov.9, 2022
Yes, not only the server was disabled, but also the devices, which I feel as an abuse.

Some very talented people are working on fixing this - see the discussions on Github, Facebook and Discord.

Maybe some tech publication (blink-blink) could approach the company that owns Sling.com and ask for clarifications about disabling devices. I've got only a generic reply from them