CES 2015: Dish to launch Internet-based pay TV service

LAS VEGAS — You soon will be able to get cable TV service over the Internet.

Sling TV, a spinoff of Dish, will soon be launching a low-cost pay TV service that it will deliver to users without the need for a set-top box or a satellite dish. Instead, users will be able to watch shows from cable channels including ESPN, TNT and the Cartoon Network via their existing broadband connection. Sling TV will stream shows to users’ computers and via apps to users’ mobile devices, smart TVs and digital media players such as Amazon Fire TV and Roku devices.

Sling TV’s new service, which will launch in the first quarter of this year, will stand out from other pay TV services in other ways. The company will charge just $20 a month for it and won’t require users to sign a long-term contract for it or to undergo a credit check before signing up. Instead, consumers will only have to sign up for a month of service at at time, much like with Netflix or Hulu.

But there’s a reason why Dish will offer Sling TV at such a low price and with such flexible terms: The new service will include far fewer channels than consumers are used to getting with traditional pay TV services. At launch, Sling TV will include 12 cable channels and won’t include any local stations.

Dish officials say the number of channels will increase over time. And the company plans to offer packages of additional channels — such as sports or family channels — for about $5 each.

The launch of Sling TV comes as the number of pay TV subscribers has started to decline for the first time amid a growing number of online streaming video choices. Dish officials said the new service is targeted not at traditional pay TV subscribers but at consumers who have already cut the cord or who have never signed up for service in the first place. With services such as Sling TV in mind, the Federal Communications Commission is weighing new rules that would govern the delivery of cable-like pay TV services over the Internet.

The new service also comes amid the potential of considerable consolidation in the pay TV industry. Comcast, the nation’s largest cable TV company, has agreed to buy Time Warner Cable, the second largest player. Meanwhile, AT&T has agreed to acquire DirecTV, the second largest pay TV operator overall. Both deals are subject to regulatory approval.

Photo of Sling TV CEO Roger Lynch at Dish’s press event Monday at CES.


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  • bbox231

    Long term – circuit switched DBS services will provide value in only the most rural areas where the cost to make a hard connection is extreme.

    Everywhere else – – the limitations of scheduled, circuit switched content will be eclipsed by packet-switched services which can provide BOTH scheduled programming and unscheduled VOD.

    Dish and DirecTV currently are reliant on AT&T and Comcast network(s) to deliver some or all of their VOD services. It’s a matter of time before “throttling” by these competitors culminates in mass defection by DBS subscribers.

    Merging of these DBS suppliers with the network owners is the only chance for long-term success.


    Great news and smart for Dish, to bad the FCC will screw us all when you whiners get your beloved “Net Neutrality” pushed through & the FCC takes over the net and what were charged – FOOLS!