Sling’s secret DVR upgrade, the DisneyMax bundle

This week on TechHive: Upgrading Sling’s free streaming DVR

Earlier this year, Sling TV’s Freestream became the first free, ad-supported streaming service to offer a cloud-based DVR. This allowed users to record movies and shows from dozens of linear channels, and then skip through the commercials.

As I noted at at the time, Sling’s free DVR only includes 10 hours of storage, and you can’t add more without a full $40 per month Sling TV subscription. But there is an unofficial workaround: By signing up for a cheap Sling International plan, you can get 50 hours of DVR storage, and it’ll work on almost any Freestream channel.

Read the full column on TechHive →

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Weekly rewind

The DisneyMax bundle: Disney and Warner Bros. Discovery plan to offer a bundle with Disney+, Hulu, and Max sometime this summer. There’s no word on exact pricing or a launch date, but presumably it’ll cost less than getting all three services a la carte (which, to be clear, will still be an option). Disney and Warner will continue to have their own separate apps, and both will offer upgrades to the full bundle.

Details aside, this is the first time that two major streaming companies (and ostensible competitors) plan bundle their services together. It’s not exactly cable all over again—the streaming landscape’s just more complex than that—but it’s certainly uncharted territory. I’m mulling over the implications and will likely have more to say about all this next week.

Walmart’s new streaming box: After popping up unannounced at some stores last week, Walmart’s Onn 4K Pro is officially available. The $50 streaming box runs Google TV, has Dolby Vision and Atmos support, and doubles as a Google Assistant smart speaker. It’s also more powerful than Walmart’s surprisingly great Onn 4K streaming box, with 3 GB of RAM and a generous 32 GB of storage, and the backlit remote has a “Find my remote” function you can activate through a button on the box.

I’m intrigued. The closest equivalent to this device is Amazon’s Fire TV Cube, which is nearly thrice the price at $140, and I far prefer Google’s TV software. The streaming box business has stagnated in recent years, so it’s nice to see a new device shake things up. I’ll be reviewing this the Onn 4K Pro in full over at TechHive in the coming weeks.

Spectrum DVR problems: I haven’t seen this reported anywhere else, but Spectrum customers have been reporting major issues with cloud DVR service for a couple of months now. The company acknowledged the issue in mid-April, sending letters to customers citing “the success of our Xumo platform and the resulting higher interest and usage of Cloud DVR within the Spectrum TV App.”

The letter said to expect improvements within the next two months, which would be around mid-June, and in the meantime customers can get full credit for the cost of Cloud DVR. I asked Charter for comment, and they just sent me a copy of the aforementioned letter with no updates on timing. Keep that in mind if you’re considering Spectrum’s new sports-free streaming TV service. (Thanks for the tip, Jonathan M.!)

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    No, I still don’t have any codes for a free month of Paramount+, as I’m starting to think that ship has sailed. But if it’s any consolation, you can get a year of Paramount+ with Showtime and no ads for $60, which is half-off the regular price. This deal is available through July 14.

    New Mint Mobile customers can also get six months of Paramount+ Essential (with ads) for free, but existing customers get nothing. I’ve rounded up other ways to save on Paramount+ in this recent TechHive article.

    For savings on Peacock, Apple TV, YouTube TV, and more, see my big list of streaming deals on the Cord Cutter Weekly website. It’s updated every Friday.

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