Sling TV logo
|Founded||January 5, 2015|
Sling TV is an American over-the-top internet television service that is owned by the Sling TV LLC subsidiary of Dish Network. Unveiled on January 5, 2015, at the Consumer Electronics Show, the service aims to complement subscription video on demand services for cord cutters, offering a selection of major cable channels that can be streamed through smart TVs, digital media players and apps.
Sling TV is led by CEO Roger Lynch, who formerly served as the executive vice president of advanced technologies for Dish Network. The service's precursor, the ethnic television service DishWorld, was also brought under the auspices of Sling TV LLC and was rebranded as Sling International. Sling TV officially launched on February 9, 2015, after offering the service on an invitation basis in January of that year. As of October 2016, the service has approximately 1 million subscribers.
Dish Network began to trial over-the-top ("OTT") internet TV in 2012 with the launch of DishWorld, a service providing access to over 50 ethnic and international television networks that was initially made available through an app for Roku digital media streamers. In carriage deals struck during 2014 with companies such as A&E Networks, The Walt Disney Company and Scripps Networks Interactive, Dish Network began to acquire rights to distribute their networks as part of an over-the-top television service – a move that served as a stepping stone towards a mainstream OTT offering from the direct broadcast satellite provider.
In November 2014, Dish Network chairman Charlie Ergen explained that the company planned to launch its OTT service by the end of the year, and was aiming to have it cost around $30 per month. He explained: "the regular linear MVPD business is a mature business. You can't just go back every day and say 'I'm going to raise my rates to make my budget.' You have to figure out other revenue streams and get other people to pay for your product and watch more minutes of your product."
The OTT service was officially unveiled as Sling TV on January 5, 2015 in a presentation at the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas; the service is co-branded with the Sling brand owned by Dish Network's former parent Echostar, which also co-branded and provided placeshifting technology for the provider's Hopper with Sling multi-room DVR system. Dish did not provide any specific details on when the service would be launched, beyond "soon." The DishWorld service will be absorbed into the Sling TV subsidiary and rebranded as Sling International, while there are also plans to launch a Sling Latino offering, an OTT service that would incorporate Spanish language networks, in the future.
Sling TV CEO Roger Lynch explained that the service was designed to target the viewing habits of the 18–35 demographic, which he believed was being ignored by the traditional pay television industry (and is also represented by its slogan, "Take Back TV"). Lynch argued the service's approach required Dish to be selective in how it built the service's lineup, stating that "it would have been easy for us to do deals earlier on if we just agreed to say 'let’s just take these big pay TV packages and put them online.' We would have ended up with $60 or $70 bundles. We don't think that is the way to reach that demographic. We spent a lot of time working with programmers to make sure we had smaller bundles, lower costs and more flexibility." He also noted the importance of reaching a deal to include ESPN in the service, which he felt was a sign of validity for the provider.
After an invitation-only beta, Sling TV officially launched on February 9, 2015. That same day, Sling announced a carriage deal with AMC Networks, allowing networks such as AMC, IFC, BBC America and SundanceTV to be included in the service as well. On February 16, 2015, Sling TV announced an agreement to carry all four channels of Epix as a premium channel option to its customers.
On April 1, 2015, as part of a wide-ranging deal between Dish Network and Time Warner that included the renewal of its carriage agreement for the Turner Broadcasting channels, Dish announced that it would add HBO to Sling TV as a premium channel add-on, which would include the primary linear channel (although excluding HBO's six multiplex channels) and on-demand programming content. The premium channel was added to its service on April 9, 2015.
Sling TV debuted Sling Latino on June 4, 2015. The service features two Spanish-language packages, "Paquete Total" and "Paquete Esencial." Customers can purchase two additional add-on packs, "Colombia" and "España." This service does not require the purchase of the "Best of Live TV" package.
In November 2015, the Blockbuster On Demand service by Blockbuster LLC was shut down and all customers were redirected to Sling.
Sling TV began offering a "Multi-Stream" package on April 13, 2016 that includes the FOX family of networks, including its regional sports networks. This was attained by dropping ESPN, ESPN2, Disney Channel, and Freeform.
Sling restructured their channel offerings on June 30, 2016, creating the "Sling Orange" single-stream and "Sling Blue" multi-stream packages. Additionally, NBC, USA Network, Bravo, NBC Sports Network, Syfy, BBC America, Comcast SportsNet, Golf Channel, CNBC, MSNBC, BBC World News, E!, Oxygen, NBC Universo, and Vibrant TV were made available for the first time. A Sling Orange subscription is required for Disney–ABC channels on extra packages, whereas a Sling Blue subscription is required for NBCUniversal channels on extra packages.
On September 8, 2016 Sling TV added Pac-12 Networks all six regional networks to its sports extra packages. During October 2016, the service also added Game Show Network, AXS TV, HDNet Movies, NHL Network, Hallmark Channel, and Hallmark Movies & Mysteries to the channel lineup. AXS is part of the Sling Blue lineup, while GSN was added to the Comedy Extra tier; the Hallmark networks are in Lifestyles Plus Extra, HDNet Movies in Hollywood Extra, and the NHL Network available in the Sports Extra tier.
On November 2, 2016 Sling TV added Cheddar to its base packages, and Sling Kids and The Blaze to the Kids Extra and World News Extra packages respectively, and later in the month (November 16), NBA TV was added to the lineup, available in Sports Extra.
Sling TV is not designed to be a full substitute for a "traditional" pay television provider, but as a complement to subscription-based online services (such as Hulu and Netflix) and broadcast television. Its minimum subscription, Sling Orange, costs US$20 per month, as opposed to the typical minimum subscription cost of US$60 cost of other pay television services; customers are not required to sign a contract after subscribing. Sling TV has two base packages available: Sling Orange and Sling Blue.
Required base package
The following package must be purchased as part of every Sling TV subscription. This package is not available to purchase individually: Its price is included in a subscription to either the $20 Orange package or the $25 Blue package.
|Base||Adult Swim, A&E, AMC, AXS TV, BBC America, Bloomberg, Cartoon Network, Cheddar, CNN, Comedy Central, El Rey, Flama, Food Network, Galavisión, HGTV, History, IFC, Lifetime, Local Now by The Weather Channel, Maker, Newsy, Polaris TV, TBS, TheBlaze, TNT, Travel Channel, Viceland||$5*|
- * Package not available individually: Subscription must include the additional purchase of at least an Orange package or a Blue package (or both).
Required add-on package
At least one of the following packages must be purchased in addition to the base package. Both packages may be purchased.
|Orange||Disney Channel, ESPN, ESPN2, ESPN3, Freeform.||+$15|
|Blue||BET, Bravo, Comcast SportsNet, FOX On-Demand, Fox (local station)*, Fox Sports 1, Fox Sports 2, Fox Sports Networks**, FX, FXX, National Geographic Channel, Nat Geo Wild, NBC†, NBC Sports Network, NFL Network, Nick Jr., Syfy, truTV, Univision, UniMas, USA Network.||+$20‡|
- * Available only in: Atlanta, Austin, Charlotte, Chicago, Dallas-Ft. Worth, Detroit, Gainesville FL, Houston, Los Angeles, Minneapolis, New York, Orlando, Philadelphia, Phoenix, San Francisco, Tampa, and Washington D.C.
- ** Available only in areas that are served by one of the Fox Sports Networks.
- † Available only in: Chicago, New York, San Francisco/Oakland/San Jose, Los Angeles, Philadelphia, Dallas/Fort Worth, Washington, DC, Miami/Fort Lauderdale, San Diego, and Hartford/New Haven.
- ‡ $15 for Multi-Stream Beta customers
Optional add-on packages
Subscriptions to the following packages can be purchased only after first subscribing to either the Orange or Blue, and base packages:
- † Orange package only
- ‡ Blue package only
- * Available only in: Chicago, Fresno-Visalia, Houston, Los Angeles, New York, Philadelphia, Raleigh-Durham and San Francisco.
Optional international add-on packages
|Latin America||Best of Spanish TV, Caribe Extra, España Extra, Sudamérica Extra||+$5|
|Brazil||TV Globo Extra||+$15|
|India/Pakistan||Hindi Extra, Pak-India Extra||+$5/+$10|
This package is not available to purchase individually: Its price is included in a subscription to either the $20 Orange package or the $25 Blue package.
|Sling German||German Mosaic Pack||My German TV and P7S1 Welt.||$20*|
|Sling Polish||Polish Basic Package||ITVN, Polsat 1, Baby TV, Disco Polo Music, Bloomberg Television, Duck TV, EBR TV, Euro Channel, Euro News, France 24, Luxe TV, NDTV 24x7, News 18 India, RIT, RT (TV network), Trace Urban, and Zoom.||$20*|
Delivery and Availability
Sling TV also features video on demand ("VOD") content, including catch-up programming from the channels carried on the service, and original content from Maker Studios – which includes the video gaming-oriented channel Polaris+.
The service originally contained several limitations for contractual, economic, and technological reasons: only one stream could be used per-account, there is no DVR functionality beyond pausing and rewinding programming, and the service did not offer local broadcast television stations or regional sports networks.
Lynch explained that including local stations and networks would increase the price of the service due to the high fees demanded by networks and station owners, but most cord cutters already have either an antenna or a subscription to a streaming service, such as Hulu, with which to view programming from the major broadcast networks.
Sling TV can be streamed via a number of platforms: at launch, these included Android and iOS devices, Apple TV; OS X and Windows computers; LG and Samsung smart TVs; and Nexus Player, Roku, Amazon Fire TV and Xbox One devices. On January 5, 2016, Channel Master added Sling TV to their DVR+ product via a firmware update.
Sling TV was named the CES 2015 "Best Home Theater Product", "Best Software/App", and "Best in Show" by Engadget, for its clear goal and pricing, its "intuitive, user-friendly and surprisingly well-done" interface, and the fact that the service "may very well be the beginning of the end for traditional pay TV" in the United States.
Some broadcasters have been hesitant about over-the-top services such as Sling TV, showing concern that they may undermine their carriage deals with larger conventional cable, satellite and Internet TV providers. Time Warner initially noted that the carriage of its channels on the service was only for a "trial" basis, while both Time Warner's CEO Jeffrey Bewkes and an analyst from the firm Macquarie Capital claimed that current contract language in Dish's OTT carriage deals with the service's content distributors would cap the number of subscribers that the service is allowed to have at any given time to 5 million. Neither Dish Network or its content providers have confirmed any such cap.
On April 4, 2015, some Sling TV users were affected by brief outages preventing them from streaming portions of TBS' coverage of an NCAA Final Four game between the Duke Blue Devils and Michigan State Spartans, prompting criticism over social media. On April 6, 2015, Sling TV said that the errors, which affected between 1,000 and 2,000 users, were the result of network server failures caused by high volumes of subscriber traffic (including by new users that signed up in time for the Final Four), explaining that "while the viewing experience was spot on for the vast majority our customers, we were able to rebalance traffic loads for those who were affected [through traffic redirection to a different network provider] and improve the experience for the remainder of the evening." Roger Lynch later stated that the service would limit future outages by upgrading its software to automatically switch from the main to a backup provider during spikes in streaming demand.
In July 2015, Sling TV accused NBC Owned Television Stations, a division of the NBCUniversal unit of Comcast, of refusing to air advertising for the service on NBC owned-and-operated stations in major markets as a form of protectionism. CEO Roger Lynch stated that "Comcast has a demonstrated history of shutting down ideas it doesn’t like or understand, predictably to its benefit and at the expense of consumers."
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- "Sling TV Adds NBC Sports, MSNBC, BBC America, & More to Their Lineup". Cord Cutters News. Retrieved 2016-06-30.
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- "NBA TV Now Available on Sling TV". Sling TV Blog. Retrieved 2016-11-16.
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- Streaming of ESPN networks through WatchESPN is also offered to subscribers.
- "DVR+ Software update - Support".
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