Sling TV is an American over-the-top internet television service that is owned by the Sling TV LLC subsidiary of Dish Network. Unveiled on January 5, 2015, at the Consumer Electronics Show, the service aims to complement subscription video on demand services for cord cutters, offering a selection of major cable channels that can be streamed through smart TVs, digital media players and apps.
Sling TV is led by CEO Roger Lynch, who formerly served as the executive vice president of advanced technologies for Dish Network. The service´s precursor, the ethnic television service DishWorld, was also brought under the auspices of Sling TV LLC and was rebranded as Sling International. Sling TV officially launched on February 9, 2015, after offering the service on an invitation basis in January of that year. As of November 2015, the service has approximately 394,000 subscribers.
Dish Network began to trial over-the-top ("OTT") internet TV in 2012 with the launch of DishWorld, a service providing access to over 50 ethnic and international television networks that was initially made available through an app for Roku digital media streamers. In carriage deals struck during 2014 with companies such as A&E Networks, The Walt Disney Company and Scripps Networks Interactive, Dish Network began to acquire rights to distribute their networks as part of an over-the-top television service ? a move that served as a stepping stone towards a mainstream OTT offering from the direct broadcast satellite provider.
In November 2014, Dish Network chairman Charlie Ergen explained that the company planned to launch its OTT service by the end of the year, and was aiming to have it cost around $30 per month. He explained: "the regular linear MVPD business is a mature business. You can´t just go back every day and say ´I´m going to raise my rates to make my budget.´ You have to figure out other revenue streams and get other people to pay for your product and watch more minutes of your product."
The OTT service was officially unveiled as Sling TV on January 5, 2015 in a presentation at the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas; the service is co-branded with the Sling brand owned by Dish Network´s former parent Echostar, which also co-branded and provided placeshifting technology for the provider´s Hopper with Sling multi-room DVR system. Dish did not provide any specific details on when the service would be launched, beyond "soon". The DishWorld service will be absorbed into the Sling TV subsidiary and rebranded as Sling International, while there are also plans to launch a Sling Latino offering, an OTT service that would incorporate Spanish language networks, in the future.
Sling TV CEO Roger Lynch explained that the service was designed to target the viewing habits of the 18?35 demographic, which he believed was being ignored by the traditional pay television industry (and is also represented by its slogan, "Take Back TV"). Lynch argued the service´s approach required Dish to be selective in how it built the service´s lineup, stating that "it would have been easy for us to do deals earlier on if we just agreed to say ´let?s just take these big pay TV packages and put them online.´ We would have ended up with $60 or $70 bundles. We don´t think that is the way to reach that demographic. We spent a lot of time working with programmers to make sure we had smaller bundles, lower costs and more flexibility". He also noted the importance of reaching a deal to include ESPN in the service, which he felt was a sign of validity for the provider.
After an invitation-only beta, Sling TV officially launched on February 9, 2015. That same day, Sling announced a carriage deal with AMC Networks, allowing networks such as AMC, IFC, BBC America and SundanceTV to be included in the service as well. On February 16, 2015, Sling TV announced an agreement to carry all four channels of Epix as a premium channel option to its customers.
On April 1, 2015, as part of a wide-ranging deal between Dish Network and Time Warner that included the renewal of its carriage agreement for the Turner Broadcasting, Dish announced that it would add HBO to Sling TV as a premium channel add-on, which would include the primary linear channel (although excluding HBO´s six multiplex channels) and on-demand programming content. The premium channel was added to its service on April 9, 2015.
Sling TV debuted Sling Latino on June 4, 2015. The service features two Spanish-language packages, "Paquete Total" and "Paquete Esencial". Customers can purchase two additional add-on packs, "Colombia" and "España". This service does not require the purchase of the "Best of Live TV" package.
Sling TV is not designed to be a full substitute for a "traditional" pay television provider, such as Dish Network´s satellite service, but as a complement to subscription-based online services (such as Hulu and Netflix) and broadcast television. Its base service costs US$20 per month, as opposed to the upwards of $60 to $90 (depending on the tier) that subscriptions to other pay television services cost; customers are not required to sign a contract after subscribing.
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