Slingbox Advertising Challenged With Class Action Lawsuit

Dave Zatz —  July 20, 2015

Disappointed that the ad-free Slingbox you purchased was suddenly inundated with banner ads and pre-roll video commercials? Well, you’re not alone. And two customers have taken these infractions to court via a class action suit.

“Sling Media failed to disclose that the use of the product would be contingent upon and subject the purchaser to unrequested advertising from Defendant. Since approximately March 17, 2015, Sling Media suddenly began broadcasting such unrequested spam advertisements to users of its Slingboxes. Slingbox has perpetuated a massive ‘bait and switch’ upon thousands of unsuspecting consumers […] who now need to watch the defendant’s ads to use their devices as promised.”

[…]

The plaintiffs are seeking an injunction against Sling Media to produce and stream future original advertising through Slingbox without prior consent from purchasers. They also seek restitution and disgorgement of all profits garnered from the allegedly misleading business practices and commandeering of the devices, as well as interest and attorneys’ fees.

Perhaps Echostar’s Sling Media knew this day was coming… due to the introduction of the Slingbox M2, which looks just like the M1 yet is described as ad-supported. In any event, I won’t need to join the “class” as, for the first time since 2005, I am Slingbox-less — partially due to these gross intrusions.

14 responses to Slingbox Advertising Challenged With Class Action Lawsuit

  1. Now you know why TiVo went with an arbitration clause…

    https://zatznotfunny.com/2013-08/opt-out-of-tivo-arbitration/

  2. Jason Holzhausen July 20, 2015 at 11:00 am

    Now I’m trying to recall if I sent in my opt out notification to TiVo…

  3. “Now I’m trying to recall if I sent in my opt out notification to TiVo…”

    After threatening to cancel, I got TiVo to do the opt-out via email confirmation.

    But it doesn’t matter! Even if you or I opted-out, there still won’t be a big enough “class” to make a class-action lawsuit viable when TiVo tomorrow claims they have a right to take possession of your first-born.

    Sure, you can individually sue if you’ve opted-out, but that’s not generally a viable option. (Or you can band together with the 2% or whatever of users who opted-out, but again…)

  4. “In any event, I won’t need to join the “class” as, for the first time since 2005, I am Slingbox-less — partially due to these gross intrusions.”

    Given you owned a Slingbox from March 17 until recently, you are certainly part of the class action.

  5. Probably less than 2%… Best bet is to take them to Judge Judy. Like high school civics, I’ll sleep thru this Sling class.

    The lawsuit, as conveyed via the linked source and law360, has some errors regarding when and where the ads started along with Slingbox pricing – maybe a larger potential class would have gotten a more thorough firm? Not all boxes and clients got the same thing at the same time (look: November 2014) and all but two Slingboxes have run far less than $300, though recent mobile apps have run $30-15 until last week, thus bumping up the total cost for some owners. Happy to provide the attorneys an overpriced consult…

  6. “Probably less than 2%… Best bet is to take them to Judge Judy.”

    When TiVo changes their TOS to deport their users to China and force them into indentured servitude working at Foxconn, I think I’ll need more reliable recourse than Judge Judy…

  7. Chucky, how did this become a TiVo issue? :)

  8. “Chucky, how did this become a TiVo issue?”

    Just like with global warming and Donald Trump, we have Dave to blame

  9. I’m also the one that ensured corporations are people.

  10. Hopefully the Plex will be able to stream channels and recordings from the HDHomerun soon, then I’ll ditch my slingbox too.

  11. “I’m also the one that ensured corporations are people.”

    Silly. That de jure dates back to the late 19th century, even if its final implications are only playing out recently. You’re not that old or powerful. Don’t boast when you can’t back it up.

    However, that whole mass fail in Cupertino UX is on you…

  12. The real stupidity was how Sling utterly underestimated the reaction from is users. If it had been upfront, and explained why the ads (boo-hoo, we don’t get enough revenue to keep the hardware and software up to snuff) and offered a Amzon Fire like option, perhaps it would not have gone this far as to guarantee lawyers so much money with the possibility of costing Sling much more $$ than they thought, if there is a settlement, and there almost always is in the Class Actions.

    The irony is that when one watches Slinged content using the Pop-Up-Window, there is NEVER any ads, and it is easy and fast to get there before any frustrations. Further, I’ve always been able to skip the pre-roll ads when we open the browser with no problem. I would be wiling to tolerate ONE pre-roll and just get to my Pop-up-Window with the always ad-free experience, but Sling doesn’t make this known in it FAQ, but still easy to run the Pop-Up-Window.

    Now, far more obnoxious are the pre-roll and interruptions ads experienced on-line that one can NEVER skip by all the media companies to whom we already pay via our cable or sat bills, and Disney, et al. still run ads on VOD with no skipping. Now, that deserves a Class Action. Sling never gets revenue after the sale of the hardware and then the mobile apps. Frankly, I’ll take the ad revenue model with FREE mobile apps to the paid one because the ads are NOT that difficult to avoid. It just seems a lot of people started at the browser and didn’t know the Pop-up-Window feature available for YEARS.

    At first I was ticked, but then realized how easy it is to watch Sling content AD-FREE. This is much a do about nothing.

  13. Perhaps one reason why they replaced their PR firm? I noticed someone new on the M2 press release. But, yeah, this would go beyond PR messaging to the marketing unit and execs for better corporate comms. It’s still an empowering and most versatile solution… but the price has basically gone up. For me, I have plenty of other content and options that I took the opportunity to clear out some clutter.

  14. I respect your decision, and Sling Media did this to themselves. Perhaps it is the Dish/Echostar corporate culture that also played a part in this. As for me, Sling’s real value is that it can provide very good PQ with little bandwidth easily outperforming every other remote streaming option I know of. If Sling performed just a poorly as some of their competitors, I would probably be willing to kiss them goodbye, but I truly enjoy the Slingbox experience of UNrestricted streaming of content I have already paid for. A TiVo Stream makes no sense for me since I already have it connected to my Slingbox and it would be a diminished experience.