Slingbox Manufacturing Halted… In Favor Of Video Production Ecosystem

Dave Zatz —  January 11, 2017 — 11 Comments

In a move that probably surprises to no one, I can confirm reports that Echostar subsidiary Sling Media halted Slingbox production last year.

Sling Media, the video place-shifting pioneer, has stopped manufacturing Slingbox units, but will continue to sell Slingboxes that remain still in stock, Satellite Business News reported in its January 6 issue.

In fact, this seems like such an obvious and natural progression given the state of the industry and what I assume have been poor, waning sales, it didn’t even occur to me to blog the development. Of course, Slingbox was Blake Krikorian’s pioneering and liberating technology that brought us TV Everywhere before that phrase had been coined. Yet we always suspected it was something of a transitional approach, with much of that video streaming functionality now offered directly via television providers — originating either from their set-tops or the cloud. Granted, it’s more locked down and ad-infested – but also way more accessible to the general populace.

The Slingbox M1, introduced back in 2014, is effectively the last Slingbox… as it was rebranded the M2 in 2015, featuring no hardware changes but an expanded focus on advertising — part of a last ditch effort to justify the businesses continued existence. Similarly, that Slingbox hardware was intended to be partially repurposed as AirTV… but that was ultimately replaced by a different technical approach and outsourced hardware production.

Fortunately, existing owners have nothing to fear in the short term as Slingbox services will carry-on. Although I wouldn’t hold out hope for much in the way of application enhancements.

So what comes next?

While most don’t realize it, Sling Media is more than the Slingbox. Heck, before joining DISH and Echostar, the company streamed NFL for DirecTV. More recently, as Echostar’s skunk works group, they helped cram Slingbox placeshifting functionality directly into the DISH Hopper and have been key participants in both Sling TV and Jetblue video streaming.

But, I gotta tell you, this upcoming pivot seems somewhat… unusual. Based on a number of sources we have learned Sling Media is working on SlingStudio, a video production ecosystem. The suite was anticipated to be a CES reveal this month, yet was obviously a no-show. However, based on extensive details published by a product designer, we have some good visuals of the SlingStudio iPad “Producer” app interface and capabilities:

SLINGSTUDIO ENABLES VIDEO ENTHUSIASTS TO EASILY SYNC VIDEO FROM MULTIPLE CAMERAS, MIX IT INTO A SINGLE MULTI-VIEW VIDEO, AND LIVE STREAM IN REAL TIME.

And from a beta tester:

We recently signed up to be a beta tester for SlingStudio, which is a new product in a “box” that allows you to aggregate video feed from an iphone 6 and any HD camera or variety of HD cameras. Using an iPAD Air and their proprietary app, you can choose which feed you want to record to program, so in essence this easy set up would permit multicam record plus it can go live as well.

And from an engineer:

Studio Portal is a cloud-based companion to Sling Studio. In its first iteration, it provides an easy cloud-based way to upload, annotate, and share personal videos created with Studio, and syndicate them widely using YouTube. When users purchase Studio, they will set up a cloud account, either via web or through the Producer app. The Producer app may remember login and can access the Studio Portal any time it’s connected to the web. The Producer app will allow uploading the output video, as well as associated metadata, to the user account in the Studio Portal.

Beyond SlingStudio app functionality and cloud services, we’re told to expect related video hardware. Indeed, the published usability testing references a StudioBox with a power button and light… that presumably helps ingest (transcode?) and transfer video from a variety of sources, like a GoPro or similar.

As to when this may be released, for how much, and what it might be worth to you remain to be seen. I’m not into action sports and don’t imagine I’ll be launching a vlogging empire on YouTube Live anytime soon… making me wonder how big the target audience could be or what other pieces of the puzzle we don’t yet know.

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11 responses to Slingbox Manufacturing Halted… In Favor Of Video Production Ecosystem

  1. The usability link has been pulled, but the content is still available in Google’s cache:

    http://webcache.googleusercontent.com/search?q=cache:www.faygu.com/sling/

    More fun stuff… Several Sling Studio demo reels on YouTube and their trademark filing is here:

    http://tsdr.uspto.gov/#caseNumber=87192674&caseType=SERIAL_NO&searchType=statusSearch

  2. “I’m not into action sports and don’t imagine I’ll be launching a vlogging empire on YouTube Live anytime soon”

    Sure. You’ve got a kid to deal with in the short-term. So you’ll be launching in April?

  3. I guess I’m lucky I just invested in a Marshmellow phone. I wonder if this mean Sling Player will never work well with Win10. I have 2 Slingboxes and they are a little more reliable than Dish’s far more complex DishAnywhere (with Sling tech anyway, but DA can be a bit tempremental at times) and far, far, far more reliable than TiVo’s utter never working OOH streaming (more than one stupid TiVo reason) TRASH named the Stream. In fact, the Slingbox is my ONLY way to reliably stream my TiVo content OOH, although TiVo stream works fine within my LAN. Oh, and I can never access my recordings transferred with TiVo Stream because it keeps requiring me to sign in, but I am in places with no internet access and the was the point of transferring my TiVo recordings in the first place.

    Yes, Slingbox for most would be redundent, and let’s not forget the OTT MVPD’s like SlingTV and Sony Vue and DirecTVNOW: a Slingbox is totally useless for these services because we stream them from the internet anyway be it at home or on mobile.

    So, those of us who still use are Slingboxes a amount of the time are gonna have to hold on to our soon to be older mobile devices and stick with Win7 for as long as possible becasue that will be the only way we can use the Slingbox. Don’t throw away that old KitKat phone or tablet for a Nuget just yet :).

  4. As Def Leppard once sang… it’s better to burn out than fade away. An inglorious end of atrophy.

    But, yeah, I hear you. We’re going to need to figure out and document how to do this on our own. Video capture card and Plex or VLC? Our project also needs a name. Slingshot?

  5. this news makes me very upset and I hope a replacement comes along. I have used slingboxes for many years and ALWAYS use mine when I travel, and I use it to stream from my TV to my PC while playing online poker. the Amazon Fire app works just fine with my slingbox M2. even though the new web app is buggy as hell it is better than nothing :(

  6. Rick, considering how a FireTV update “killed” (unintentionally) the SlingPlayer App for FireTV last year, Sling Media did work to fix it in a matter of days. The really bad news is that should such and incident occur again with ANY OS or platform, it sounds like Sling Media aint gonna come to the rescue. Maybe Dave knows more, but from the announcement it suggests that Sling Media will NOT kill existing SlingPlayers and Apps and maintain things as they are today (I’m thinking of the stupid breif check-in to Sling servers before the apps function), but won’t “support” them, and since a team of software/engineers costs MONEY, I really do hope that MINOR OS updates don’t untintentionally kill SlingPlayer Apps again, but it could happen. it is reasonable to conclude Sling Media is not likely to fix such problmes from now on.

  7. Well Tablo and SiliconDust? Now it’s your turn to fill the Slingbox void. I mean? It isn’t that great of a leap from OTA antennas to component inputs and an IR blaster.

  8. The big caution I’d give is that if you invest in this, fully expect it to be useless a year from now when they lose interest.

  9. But if you could trust Sling to stick with it (you can’t) the new product does fill a niche with mobile video podcasting. If they’re smart (usually not) they would also have an audio podcast mode. I don’t do this, but I’ve heard there’s no good option for multi-source audio podcasting.

  10. Was going to get one this spring for my tv on the deck. Is there a viable replacement? Don’t want to spend on something that won’t have any support.

  11. If you just want live TV, could do something with HDHomeRun and like the Apple TV Channels app. If you want full control of your set-top, there’s really no other off-of-shelf solution at this point. Hopefully Comcast, Verizon, etc do more and more powerful apps soon.

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