Today at CES 2015, Dish announced a new service to target so called cord-cutters and cable-nevers. Cord-cutters are users that ditched cable, and cable-nevers are typically a younger demographic that has never had cable TV in the first place. The service is available from a new subsidiary of Dish called Sling TV LLC and is aptly called Sling TV. Confusingly, it has nothing to do with SlingBox which is owned by the same parent company as Dish.
For $20 per month, Sling TV allows access to content that is traditionally walled off by cable subscriptions. The live channels that will be available at launch are ESPN, ESPN2, TNT, TBS, Food Network, HGTV, Cartoon Network and Disney Channel. Sling TV is expecting to add more channels and features later. There is also support for paid on-demand content. Users will also be able to play back content that has aired within 3 days of the initial broadcast. You can expect to be able to pause, rewind, and fast-forward live TV. That makes this service somewhat of a pseudo-DVR.
All of this will allow people to get access to that content without the song and dance involved in signing up for a cable subscription. Usually that includes a hefty monthly fee and more often than not, a terrible DVR box. Lastly it’s worth noting, that the service does not require a contract and is billed month-to-month. For example, a user could sign up for the package during the NFL season, watch ESPN during that time, and then cancel after the season ends.
The service doesn’t include any hardware like the aforementioned cable box. It simply integrates into a bunch of existing hardware that you might already have. At launch Sling TV will support iOS, Android, Amazon Fire TV, Amazon Fire TV Stick, Nexus Player, Xbox One, Roku, LG and Samsung Smart TVs, and will have a website for Mac and PC users. Here’s hoping they make that website remote friendly, so HTPC users can gain access as well.
This service should be quite interesting to cord-cutters and cable-nevers. It allows a flexibility of access to content the cable industry has really never seen. It embraces the Internet as a delivery mechanism for video content. In my mind, the success or failure of this service really depends on two key factors. If the primary factor of leaving cable, or never signing up for cable is price, this may be a great option. If the primary factor is an apathy toward the content of cable TV, then this may not be a silver bullet. Of course it could be a combination of the two, since life is rarely divided up into such neat boxes. If nothing else, it will be interesting in the next year to see if this sparks a renewed interest in the demographic that has left cable behind.