CES 2015: Dish Unveils Low-Cost Internet-TV Service, with Access to ESPN and Maker Studios

/ Jan 5, 2015

Sling TV gets up to 250,000 subscribers

As expected, Dish Network (DISH) has unveiled its upcoming internet-TV service, dubbed Sling TV, which will offer access to a skinny bundle of TV channels as well as clips from Disney’s Maker Studios for $20 a month.

Sling TV is meant for cord-cutters and cord-nevers who don’t want to pay for expensive cable subscriptions — which averaged more than $92 month in 2014 according to research firm SNL Kagan — and who also expect to access video content across a number of devices.

Therefore, the core $20 package (no contract required) will give subscribers access to 12 top-rated TV channels across sports, family, lifestyle, and news.

The most prominent of the group is ESPN and ESPN2, which means Sling TV customers will be able to access live sports — the last bastion of pay-TV — over the internet.

Other networks included in the core “Best of Live TV” package include TNT, TBS, Food Network, HGTV, Travel Channel, Adult Swim, Cartoon Network, Disney Channel, ABC Family, and CNN.

The package also includes a number of video-on-demand options as well as short- and long-form video clips from Maker Studios, the giant MCN acquired by Disney in early 2014.

Customers will have some options to upgrade their packages via a couple of add-ons. “Kids Extra” will offer access to Disney Junior, Disney XD, Boomerang, Baby TV, and Duck TV for $5 per month, while “News & Info Extra” will bring access to HLN, Cooking Channel, DIY, and Bloomberg TV. A “Sports Extra” package is coming soon, though Dish did not specify which additional channels will be available under that package. (Turner, with which it already has a deal with, could be a possibility.)

Other add-ons for more TV and online video content will be added throughout 2015, the satellite provider said.

There’s no hardware required for Sling TV, either. At launch, the service will be available online and via an app on iOS and Android devices, as well as an app on connected-TV devices like the Amazon Fire TV, Amazon Fire TV Stick, Google’s Nexus Player, some LG smart TVs, Roku players, Roku TVs, some Samsung smart TVs, and the Xbox One. Additional device support will be announced in the coming months, Dish said.

As for how the service works, customers will be able to pause and rewind most live channels and on-demand content. For some channels, the service includes a three-day “replay” feature giving customers the chance to watch recent episodes of in-season TV shows. The major restriction for Sling TV is that it will only be accessible on one device at a time.

According to Dish, there are about 20 million American households — comprised primarily of people between the ages of 18 and 35 — that the traditional pay-TV ecosystem doesn’t attract today. Sling TV is intended for them. “Sling TV provides a viable alternative for live television to the millennial audience,” said Joseph P. Clayton, Dish president and CEO, in a statement. “This service gives millions of consumers a new consideration for pay-TV.”

Sling TV will be operated by Sling TV LLC, which will function as a subsidiary of Dish Network. The division will be overseen by Roger Lynch, who’s on board as its CEO.

The service will officially launch sometime in the first quarter of 2015.

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