The disruption of the cable market continues with last week’s launch of Sling TV, Dish Network’s answer to pricey cable bills.
Sling TV, an over-the-top (OTT) TV service that delivers television programs directly to consumers over the Internet, is now offering TV subscriptions to its service for as low as $20/month. Sling TV is one of the first players in the OTT market, allowing U.S. consumers to cut the costly cable cord with streaming video. The shows are presented live, as they are on cable channels, but viewers can watch them on their TVs, computers, tablets or smartphones.
For $20/month, subscribers get access to 15 channels including ESPN, ESPN2, TNT, TBS, CNN, HGTV, Cartoon Network, Food Network, Travel Channel and more. AMC is expected to be added soon. Sling TV also offers three add-on packages for $5 each: a news and information package including Bloomberg Television, a kids and family package including ABC Family, Disney Channel and Disney Junior, and a sports package that includes access to other sports channels including additional ESPN channels. Click here for the full channel line-up, according to CNET. For a sneak peek at how Sling TV works, click here for a video by Gigaom.
Unlike many cable packages, Sling TV is available to subscribers on a month-to-month basis with no long-term contracts. However, Sling TV does have some industry restrictions. For example, subscribers cannot rewind or fast forward on shows aired within the previous 72 hours. Also, Sling TV can only be viewed on one device at a time. Though owned by Dish Network, subscribers do not have to be Dish subscribers to sign up for Sling TV.
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Because so many of us live vicariously through our mobile devices, making TV accessible on the go makes sense, especially for Millennials and younger generations. With Hulu, Netflix, Amazon Prime and new OTT options, viewers can watch what they want when and where they want – without the pricey cable bill or long-term contract. They now have flexibility and choice.
One concern, however, is that with so many offerings, it will be more complicated for consumers to find the right mix of entertainment and to identify, acquire and upgrade the equipment needed to view shows, live events, etc. With the investment of various OTT options, as we noted in our blog post last week, a few gadgets like Roku and Fire TV, and the latest and greatest mobile devices, viewers could easily spend more than they do now on their monthly cable bills. In addition, watching Big Brother, Game of Thrones, House of Cardsand Transparent will no longer be as easy as turning on the TV.
Our advice to OTT providers – consider the total cost of ownership and focus on educating your customers on how to use your product. If you make it simple and show viewers how your product benefits them, you’ll have long-term, loyal customers.