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Sling TV's buffering problem is getting really annoying — but there’s good news

Sling TV cord cutting
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Noticing a lot of buffering in Sling TV lately? It appears we're not alone — and, yes, I said "we" on purpose, as I've been experiencing this issue myself. And it's all the more annoying when Sling has been one of the best streaming services and one of the most affordable of the best cable TV alternatives. Previously, that didn't come at the cost of a stable streaming experience.

As of late, I saw this issue while watching my sport of choice: pro wrestling (on both TNT and AXS). The buffering I saw happened on both the Amazon Fire TV Stick 4K Max and a web browser. I wasn't hearing anyone else vent about the issue, so I thought it was a super-limited problem.

Then, I started to see evidence that this buffering wasn't isolated. On Friday night, a friend told me that Sling on their Xbox was buffering and buggy, while watching local channel Fox 5 in New York City. 

But once the official social media account @SlingAnswers (opens in new tab) tweeted out that it was aware of an issue, a larger problem became clear:

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That tweet attracted a chorus of frustrated users, as it was not the time for buggy buffering: the NBA playoffs are on! Twitter user Donald Parham / @d_parham (opens in new tab) is practically asking for a refund, quote-tweeting Sling and stating "During the playoffs? We paying y'all money. Y'all gonna repay folks?" 

More anger came from user Signor Vespa / @LilAustinsDad (opens in new tab), who dropped some profanity on Sling before saying "I’m trying to watch the playoffs bro."

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Wonder if your buggy Sling is like my buggy Sling? I've got some video of the problem:

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Then, at 1:15 a.m. ET, the Sling Answers (opens in new tab) account posted the message "UPDATE: We know how frustrating tonight was. Our teams worked urgently to get your service back and we are happy to say they have resolved the issue. We appreciate your patience."

Analysis: Sling has one job, and its price advantage isn't quality-proof

Hopefully this means Sling's woes are gone. Tom's Guide has reached out for comment and will update this story if we receive it. But this whole incident is a big reminder that no matter how affordable a service is, it's not worth the discount if you can't see what you're trying to watch.

I've been testing YouTube TV for an upcoming article, so I had an easy way to try something else. At $65 per month, it's $30 more per month than the $35 Sling TV package I pay for, but not everyone else has that option. And I bet some people would be plenty frustrated that they'd have to pay nearly twice as much for a stable feed.

Henry is a senior editor at Tom’s Guide covering streaming media, laptops and all things Apple, reviewing devices and services for the past seven years. Prior to joining Tom's Guide, he reviewed software and hardware for TechRadar Pro, and interviewed artists for Patek Philippe International Magazine. He's also covered the wild world of professional wrestling for Cageside Seats, interviewing athletes and other industry veterans.