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Roku Gets Slingboxed, Letting It Function as Second Cable Set-Top

Sling Media devices now support Roku players, after adding AirPlay for streaming to Apple TV

Slingbox owners now have another way to avoid paying their cable or satellite TV provider for a second set-top — and, potentially, a second pay-TV bill.

EchoStar’s Sling Media is adding support for Roku’s Internet streaming players, which will let users watch live TV or DVR recordings to a second TV, whether that’s in, say, an upstairs bedroom or hundreds of miles away in a vacation home. The feature, available Monday, comes after Slingbox updated its apps a month ago to add Apple’s AirPlay wireless streaming technology to deliver video to an Apple TV set-top.

Cable and satellite providers charge a monthly lease fee for second or third set-tops. With the Slingbox attached to a primary DVR, they can now tune to live TV or recorded programs on a second TV inside the home on a Roku or Apple TV. The feature also would let consumers access a primary pay TV account from vacation homes or “college dorm rooms,” according to Sling Media.

However, there’s a big caveat: If the remote SlingPlayer viewer is accessing the same set-top box as the home viewer, they both have to watch the same programming. In addition, to conform to copyright laws, only one remote user can access the Slingbox at a time.

Roku customers can use either SlingPlayer Mobile for iPhone or Android phone to initiate the video and send it to the TV, after installing the free SlingPlayer channel from the Roku Channel Store. Models supported at launch include Roku 3, Roku 2 XS and Roku 2 XD as well as the Roku Streaming Stick; support for Roku 2, Roku 1 and Roku LT models will come in the next week.

Sling Media also Monday debuted SlingPlayer 3.0, available first only for iOS 7. New features include: an enhanced interface for browsing content; live statistics presented during TV sporting events; and the ability to filter live TV programming based on social media posts. The 3.0 version functions as a remote control for Roku and Apple TV, with the ability to “send” content to the TV with a single tap.

In addition, Sling Media announced plans to intro a version of the SlingPlayer app for Windows 8.1 in December, available for Microsoft Surface tablets, Windows 8.1 desktop PCs, laptops and convertible devices.

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