AirTV To Repurpose Legacy Slingbox Hardware

Dave Zatz —  December 14, 2017

By way of AFTVNews, we learn that DISH went back to the well.

AirTV was originally conceptualized as a network tuner designed to stream local OTA into SlingTV apps, on various platforms, alongside the premium content. However, what they ended up launching was a Playskool-looking Android TV box, with optional tuner, for local antenna TV playback only. But, for 2018, it looks like DISH’s AirTV LLC subsidiary has two new boxes on the docket.

Beyond a mildly refreshed version of the original AirTV, dug up by Cord Cutter News, the more notable news is an apparent resurrection of the Slingbox M1 as an AirTV variant. And, since we’ve seen this several times before, let me just go ahead and quote myself:

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.

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

AirTV is essentially an over-the-air Slingbox that repurposes existing M1 streaming hardware by adding an OTA tuner and, most interestingly, replaces a Slingbox client app with the Sling TV experience. So, one would hook up the AirTV to an antenna and one’s home network via WiFi or Ethernet and that local television content would be beamed directly into the Sling TV app – at home or while on the move. I’ll go ahead and assume the ultimate goal here is for the OTA channels from one’s residence to be co-located amongst the pay television channels of Sling TV’s $20 streaming service in a unified guide.

What’s changed in the intervening months is the decision to also launch dedicated AirTV apps – many of which are currently live and awaiting your download. However, without DVR capabilities, Tablo would remain the superior multi-platform OTA streaming solution.

16 responses to AirTV To Repurpose Legacy Slingbox Hardware

  1. Any idea what the cost will be?

  2. After being burned years ago with the Dish DTVPal-DVR when they dropped all support less than a year after product introduction with many serious bugs still in the software, it will be a cold day in hell before I ever give Dish an opportunity to steal any of my money again!

    People should steer clear of anything related to Dish and OTA. Spend your money on a Tivo or Tablo – 2 companies that know how to properly support their products.

  3. Still don’t know why TiVo is dragging on this – if they could put OTT channels and OTA channels in a unified guide with their native DVR functionality – that would be the ultimate solution and they’d sell more of their boxes.

    Just negotiating with an existing provider to throw an app on their would be ok, but the ultimate would be to have the raw channel feeds integrated with TiVos native software.

    Maybe TiVo would have to build their own content offering to make something like that happen. But it would keep their subscription model alive for much better reason than paying for guide content.

    I just gave you ways to keep your business alive TiVo, hope you are listening.

    As things currently stand I’m afraid they are getting squeezed on both ends. They need to find a way to inject a core offering to compete with Roku/AppleTV + option that must cord cutters are going straight to.

  4. So the blog coverage may have forced the issue – Slingbox AirTV is now live. Both the old box and new box are basically called AirTV which is pretty darn bad considering how different they are. Pricing is $120 and the mobile app is free. Not sure yet if it’ll be ad-infested as they did with the latest iteration of the Slingbox.

    https://www.airtv.net/products/airtv/

  5. How do you do this by phone. All I have is arena TV.

  6. AirTV would hook up to your antenna and your home broadband and then it would stream to your OTA to iPhone, Android, Roku, Fire TV, etc.

  7. How is this different from an HDHomeRun?

  8. @bryan

    “I just gave you ways to keep your business alive TiVo…” You sure did. That’s a brilliant idea.

    I avoided TiVo in the past because I objected to paying for the guide service on a per device basis. This may have changed with their newer devices – I’ve ignored TiVo for so long now that I have no idea about their current products.

    On the other hand, I have bought into the integrated OTT & OTA service of Sling TV on a AirTV Player. It’s not perfect, but it’s the best for our requirements. The new AirTV device again offers something I’m looking for specifically, which is integrating OTT & OTA on other STBs such as the Apple TV and on mobile devices. We’ll see if it works as promised. If it does, then Sling again will be standing alone with a unique service that others seem to be missing.

    I hope TiVo listens to you. I may them give a second look, if they were to follow your suggestion.

  9. Buzz, similar in many respects but multiple clients and easier to get it streaming outside your home. Plus, it’ll put OTA into Sling TV if you also happen to be a Sling TV customer. If/when Amazon or Best Buy stock these, I’ll pick one up to see what it’s all about.

  10. I’m happy with my Apple Tv. Hope they bring some new features in 2018 as well.

  11. Doesn’t Plex do this?

  12. I’m happy with my toaster, which browns toast quite nicely. As far as I can tell, this is no different than my toaster. Also, TiVo should do this.

  13. OK. I’m no longer happy with my toaster. I need to upgrade to a TiVo brand toaster. Preferably one with integrated OTT & OTA.

  14. Dave,
    The streaming outside the house is the only thing I see different. HDHomerun apps are on EVERY platform and not even necessary for Windows or Android TV. Having the OTA channels in the Sling TV guide is kinda interesting, but again only for Sling users. 4 tuner HDHomeruns are on sale for ~$159 right now. The fact that you mention Tablo in the article but say nothing about the device that’s been doing this for a long time, makes the article seem more like an advertisement.
    I’m not an HDHomerun owner, but I’ve been following them for a few years now.

  15. An advertisement for AirTV? This post is not intended to encompass all current options, simply sharing news of a new product … based on the original out-of-home, appified offering in Slingbox. And I’d say out-of-home and DVR are or should be key criteria for many people. Tablo checks both those boxes and I’m a fan of their product. They do pay for banner advertising, but that does not extend to matters of coverage.

    HDHomeRun leans geekier and is relatively new to the app piece of this (vs the original kludgey computer clients or WMCE) – their prior app attempts weren’t so great, and neither was their original attempt at DVR. Although in there benefit is favorable pricing and multiple playback options — native Android TV is solid and Channels on Apple TV is great. I haven’t tested Plex’s DVR yet. HDHomeRun is also notable in that it can optionally handle cable, unlike Tablo.

    For prior HDHomeRun coverage dating back to 2006, please feel free to review these queries:

    https://zatznotfunny.com/?s=hdhomerun
    https://twitter.com/search?q=hdhomerun%20from%3Adavezatz&src=typd

  16. @mike

    Plex sort of does this, but only in the very basic in sense of what you are asking.
    First off, you need to pay a monthly subscription for Plex Pass to do so, then you need a box like an HDHomeRun, and even then, the interface wouldn’t be as polished nor integrated into Sling TV’s existing app.