Experiments in viewing network video (ABC/NBC/CBS/ESPN) without cable/satellite feed

While in Ohio, we are living without a cable or satellite feed. We do have an IP connection and so are playing around with how to watch ABC/NBC/CBS/ESPN content.

Attempt 1 is “Slingbox+SlingCatcher”:http://www.slingmedia.com. Slingbox in Bellevue, kicking the s-video output from our Tivo up to the net. Then Slingcatcher box here attached to TV. We have 6mbit upload speeds in Bellevue and ~6mbit download here. I chose s-video as a way to minimize the data rate and I wonder if I should have chosen composite video. Because the quality basically sucks. Audio is ok but video is pretty blurry and almost unwatchable. This is clearly never going to be a mainstream solution.

Attempt 2 is downloads direct to the AppleTV from the iTunes store. But totally fails on network tv, the selection is abysmal. and no live sports.

Attempt 3 is bittorrent+handbrake+itunes and playback from an appletv attached to the tv. OK this provides good quality results but a) no live content like football games, and b) is uber-geeky. I can manage this collection of software but no one else wants to take the time to do so. But I can batch up jobs and get a little done every night.

So we have a clunky way to get non-live network shows. But still no great solution for live sports — ESPN, etc. ESPN360 is just barely ok and I guess I can hook the Mac up to the tv. Wish I could get it on other boxes that I am willing to leave hooked up fulltime to tv — mactv, game console, etc.