DISH Network Has New Set-Tops In The Hopper

While legacy television services continue to contract, I remain a subscriber (for now) and keep on eye on Dish as one of the most technically progressive service providers (and having personally been acquired, way back when). Now cable and satellite companies don’t iterate at the speed of retail-facing co’s, and generally with less fanfare when … Read more

Slingbox Lives On In AirTV 2

What’s old is new again and the Slingbox Tuner, circa 2006, lives on in the form of AirTV 2. The ownership timeline is somewhat convoluted at this point — Echostar buys my former employer Sling Media and later transfers the assets to DISH who launch AirTV LLC as a hardware accessory/gateway for their Sling TV … Read more

Slingbox Manufacturing Halted… In Favor Of Video Production Ecosystem

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?

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AirTV Unifies Sling TV, Netflix & OTA

After several years of development, it appears a redesigned AirTV Player is nearly here. Originally conceived as an over-the-air network tuner, like Tablo, to stream local antenna television into Sling TV’s user interface, AirTV appears to have been rethought… and nears arrival as an Android-powered, Technicolor-produced set-top box vs reusing Echostar’s Slingbox scraps, Oh, this rendition still channels live television. But that local programming is now output directly into a TV, presumably merged within Sling’s guide, along with over-the-top streaming applications — specifically Netflix (!) and the Play Store itself…. based on support documents and the bundled universal, voice-capable Bluetooth remote that sports a Google logo.

Get the live channels you love and the shows you can’t miss. Watch Sling TV on AirTV Player, and enjoy live sports, shows, and movies with the simplicity of an app. With the AirTV Player, cut the cord and keep the TV experience. You’ll have a single platform for watching Sling TV, Netflix, local channels, and more.

AirTV combines all your live programming with Sling TV and your favorites on Netflix. When you launch your player, you will land in the screen. This screen allows you to customize your favorite channels on Sling TV and launch your favorite Netflix shows and movies

Merging over-the-air and online video into a single interface is pretty compelling stuff… which Apple TV, Fire TV, and Roku cannot do (without assistance). So I’m quite interested to see exactly where Sling lands, especially since it’s not clear if this redesign retains risky (for Sling) out-of-home OTA streaming. The wait probably won’t be long given a newly launched support page and an FCC waiver —  a CES announcement next month seems likely, if we don’t hear something sooner.

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AirTV Delayed During FCC Review

It seems Echostar failed to dot the i’s and cross the t’s as the AirTV over-the-air network tuner, designed to pipe live OTA television into Sling TV, has been delayed… while they seek FCC approval to waive an archaic analog tuner requirement. Pursuant to Section 1.3 of the Commission’s rules,1 EchoStar Technologies L.L.C. (“EchoStar”) respectfully requests the Media Bureau … Read more

Sling TV Gets Local Channels Next Month via AirTV

sling-airtv

As I revealed in April, Echostar and DISH Network are collaborating on an audacious plan to pipe the national television networks into Sling TV without the headache and expense of franchine licensing. “AirTV” repurposes Slingbox M1/M2 hardware with over-the-air (OTA) antenna capabilities to stream NBC, ABC, CBS, FOX, and other locals into the various Sling TV client applications.

From a draft Amazon listing:

With AirTV and an HD antenna, you can stream live local programming, news and your local sports anywhere in your home using the free Sling TV app and its integrated program guide. No paid contracts-just free local TV on any compatible device. And if you want more channels, you can subscribe to paid Sling TV packages-all from the same app.

  • You can watch AirTV from the Sling TV app on Android, iOS, Amazon Fire TV and Roku.
  • Compatible with antennas such as: Mohu Wine Gard RCA …and all others

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Echostar Prevails In Slingbox Ad Lawsuit (Round 1)

Back in 2014, Echostar’s Sling Media began injecting ads into both the Slingbox client interface and into the video stream itself. As you might imagine, many of us were displeased. Also, as you might imagine, some decided to take this to court as a class-action lawsuit. Unfortunately for the plaintiffs, their legal team doesn’t appear to … Read more