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.