Archives For Sling TV

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Bypassing content licensing, Sling TV may soon cram customer’s local television channels directly into the company’s pay TV service via a small set-top box and antenna.

Last summer, I came across a curious Echostar trademark application for “AirTV” which was later discovered to be a pedestrian new Slingbox out of Echo’s Sling Media subsidiary. However, given a well-timed tip, from a trusted source alerting me to incoming Sling Media hardware, that coincides with a lifting of the FCC’s short-term confidentiality, an audacious game plan has now been revealed.

By and large, the challenge in licensing over-the-top streaming content has not been in securing a gaggle of traditional “cable” channels. Rather, it’s in bundling the national networks (think: ABC, CBS, Fox, NBC) due to their legion of regional affiliates – who expect to be compensated in cash and/or broadcast of their local advertising. The cost and logistical challenge in brokering these relationships is immense, as demonstrated by Sony recently scaling back the PlayStation Vue television service and, perhaps, given the M.I.A. Apple TV offering.

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Well, DISH Network subsidiary Sling TV and Echostar subsidiary Sling Media have collaborated on what looks to be an effective and novel end-around in “AirTV.”

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Pioneering Internet streaming service Sling TV has unveiled their upcoming interface refresh from CES. And our pal Brad Linder went hands on. Beyond recent guide presentation updates, the thrust of this transition is functional — with personalization taking center stage.

A new MyTV dashboard collates content you’ve previously flagged as Favorites, Recommended content based on viewership, and any On Demand programming you may have left in progress – so you can pick it up at another time or from another device. Further, On Now is a new customized guide presentation based on what you generally watch and when you watch it. Beyond these changes, Sling has also realized the UI does not need to be consistent amongst devices — what works on a touchscreen up close may not be suitable from a leanback experience. Not to mention navigation conventions vary by platform, say Xbox One versus Roku.

While the new approach does seem compelling and more interactive, at least in regards to Sling’s target millennial audience, it’s likely too visually rich and complex for my mom… who owns two Roku TVs and doesn’t particularly care for Comcast. Perhaps a future update could incorporate a slimmed down, “lite” mode with a more traditional presentation to expand Sling TV’s demographic to include seniors. In any event, Sling expects the multi-platform rollout to commence later this quarter.